‘1/1’ is the soundtrack to Jeremy Phillips’ directorial debut, the film submerges the viewer into the mind of Lissa, a 20-year-old girl in rural Pennsylvania and her struggles with sex, drugs, love and loss. Liars have created an electronic soundtrack that reflects the film’s use of mixed media abstractions and multi-film formats, which undoubtedly stands up as an album in its own right.
"Created soon after Liars’ 2014 album ‘Mess’, these are the last recordings by Angus Andrew and Aaron Hemphill before Hemphill amicably left the band. In 2017 Angus Andrew released ‘TFCF’, Liars’ eighth studio album and Aaron Hemphill recently released Nonpareils’ ‘Scented Pictures’, his debut solo album. (Both albums are out on Mute, Andrew and Hemphill’s label since Liars’ debut, ‘They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top’.) Angus Andrew and Aaron Hemphill were given the script for ‘1/1’ and, after reading it on a flight from LA to NY, immediately decided to take it on. “It was very heavy, it was very intense and by the time we got to New York, we’d read it. At that point, we hadn’t seen anything but we were on board just from reading the script,” explains Angus.
Soon after, Liars rented a space in Copenhagen and started work on the film’s soundtrack. The director, who up until that point had been using temp music to mark out where the score would go, gave the band descriptions for each of the cues. Instead of giving musical direction, he gave them emotional and descriptive language to describe what he wanted, such as “imagine you have a 100 piece puzzle, but you have 1000 pieces - what would that sound like” or “the character is submerged in water at 4am” or “an alarm clock won’t stop ringing.” Liars were delighted, “This was the perfect thing for us to hear, that allowed us to explore that feeling. At this point we still haven’t seen the film, we were going off the script and a few sample scenes. These descriptions were really helpful for us, and even though they were abstract, they allowed a lot of interpretation.”
Hemphill goes on to say, “We tried to find ways to take it off the grid. We would watch it, read the script and try to get a feel for the plot development and then base the music off of our memory.” The result is a fractured, emotional response to characters within the film. Without using visual cues that might allow the music to simply mirror emotion, Liars have delved deeper into the reality of some of the more complicated themes of ‘1/1’. Director and writer Jeremy Phillips has explained that the film was originally created in response to watching the films of John Hughes for the first time - after the director’s death in 2009 - and wondering what a Molly Ringwald film would look like now. Highly personal, he explains that it “started to connect me with the past, and dealing with depression and anxiety.”
Phillips has described the film as very much a joint production between all of the artists involved (he himself found specific inspiration in Liars’ single ‘No. 1 Against The Rush’) and some of the film was edited to work with the music, an unusual technique. The director explains, “I view this movie as ours, and that goes for everyone involved in the production. I wanted there to be give and take between everyone working on it.” This is particularly evident as the film was actually changed in some sections to adapt to the music.
Phillips goes on to say that “The music, how it functions in the film, is really the access point to the main character’s thoughts/feelings. It's a coming-of-age story, she’s very distant and the music guides you through the emotions, as both she and the visual language of the film keep maturing.”
Reissue of proper keys-in-the-pot boogie disco
“Kalita Records are proud and honoured to announce the first ever official reissue of the Sophisticated Ladies’ sought-after 1980 New York disco single ‘This Ain’t Really Love’, backed by a Mighty Zaf extended edit of their 1977 release ‘Check It Out’, and accompanied by interview-based liner notes. Here, the single will be available in its true 12” format, saving collectors and DJs alike from spending triple-digit figures on an original copy.”
Swans’ influential guitarist Norman Westberg returns with his most substantial album to date on the expansive, personal panoramas of ‘After Vacation’, a profoundly beautiful set of windswept soundscapes amplified by production from Lawrence English.
For the last 6 years Westberg has rendered a one-take representation of his studio performances, effectively presenting a series of naked meditations on the electric guitar with little or no over-dubbing. Now, breaking with tradition following the end of Swans in their current configuration, he opens up his sound to reveal a depth of tonal colour and harmonic possibilities that just weren’t there in previous outings.
His glacially slow panning shots now highlight a finer spectrum of notes with much deeper spatial relief, marking a sharp difference between his old and new sounds akin to switching from a cathode ray TV to widescreen HD. That’s partly down to Westberg’s renewed impetus and ambition, but also no doubt aided by Lawrence English’s production, which serves to breath patient, pregnant space between the notes and reveal compelling new aspects to Westberg’s sound.
That sound is significantly and fully realised in six parts, traversing from windless nocturnal desert scenes in the cinematic majesty of Soothe The String, to the opiated shimmer of Drops In A Bucket and the arcing, star-gazing poignancy of Norman Seen As An Infant on the A-side, before really zooming out on the B-side to reveal a dawning valley of slow rolling melodic fog and harmonic aurora in Levitation, and coming to rest in the homebound floral acoustic guitar strokes and lushly layered environs of the album’s closing title track.
One of the year’s most evocative quiet listens, After Vacation comes with a huge recommendation if you’re into anything from Ry Cooder’s classic Paris, Texas soundtrack to more contemporary variations on that theme from the likes of Tim Hecker, Stars of the Lid or indeed Lawernce English.
Nyege Nyege Tapes’ ace new sublabel Hakuna Kulala presents fresh new bass music from Kenya with Slikback’s rudely skeletal twyss-ups
Simultaneously familiar in construction yet wickedly alien to Western bass music frameworks, Slikback’s ‘Lasakaneku’ is yet another thrilling new delivery from East and central Africa that’s bound to baffle preconceptions of music from that region.
‘Acid’ is a ruggedly squirming zinger working on a grinding dancehall bump shot up with martial snares and mad, chopped up vocal - think a brilliantly borked Equiknoxx - while ‘Bantu’ comes off like slow/fast and pendulous answer to SA Gqom, and ‘Ascension’ sounds like Don’t DJ doing minimal D&B. To our ears, ‘Just I’ has the rub ’n tug of ruggedest dembow beats, and the hot-footed torque of ‘Venom’ sounds like a mutant Rian Treanor, before escalating to a syncopated gabber coda.
Lotic takes a stunning lurch forward with Power, their début album for Tri Angle following from the Heterocetera EP, and the Agitations  mini-LP for Janus Berlin. Where we’ve previously alluded to strong comparison between the music of Lotic and Arca, here the Berlin-based American artist really comes into their own, using vocals for the first time - ranging from syrupy rap to tortured torch song - to perfectly gel their de/constructed R&B, ambient and avant-electronic style in a way we haven’t previously heard.
Power was originally intended as a study in empowerment, but circumstances changed when Lotic lost their apartment and the subsequent two years were spent in state of flux, with windows of opportunity to record coming only every three months or so. In those windows, Lotic formed a fractious mosaic of a musical self-portrait, consolidating various aspects of their character into eleven illusively iridescent and tightly-packed crystalline structures. The effect of Lotic’s revelation is equally enthralling, serving to light up the complexities of his sound from striking new angles and providing a natural (if processed and extreme) counterpoint to their favoured high-register twinkles and asymmetric arrangements.
We can imagine cuts such as the pent dembow bumper Hunted and the severely warped R&B drill of Nerve to kill it in the club, but the album is most interesting when it’s pushing at more oblique angles, as with the Total Freedom-esque rush of Power-drums against banking discord in the title cut, or exploring pure alien terrain in Bulletproof, while it all comes together most affectively in the warped hardscrabble texture and mutant torque of Resilience, and deeply sophisticated yet animalistic expression of Heart.
If you’ve been struck by records from Arca, Yves Tumor, Björk or Ziúr in the last year, this one’s a must-have.
Bjarki’s bbbbbb label grip Norway’s EOD for a frenetic album of Braindancing drill ’n bass built in the model of classic late ‘90s AFX, Squarepusher and Venetian Snares.
Since Rephlex scurried off some years ago, this sorta sound has ben scattered around various labels, with bbbbbb emerging as a natural home for the reflexions and expressions of the producers currently pushing dancefloor prisms.
Norway’s Stian Gjevik a.k.a EOD and CN, is a prime case in point with ‘Named’, his most significant physical release since Rephlex issued a pair of his 12”s in 2013, not long before the label disbanded. For all intents and purposes, ‘Named’ could have easily come out on the home of Braindance: from the giddy hyper jazz of ‘Exham Priory’ to the chops of ‘’sblood Thou Stinkard’, thru the haunted warehouse acid of ‘Edward’, to demented music box melodies recalling NYZ in ‘Zadok’, to the Radiophonic spectres of ‘Lavinia’, and the curdled, winking daftness of ‘Blasted Haeth’, you’ll find all the mental colour, jittery funk and emotional melancholy of Braindance at its best.
Body/Head, the duo of Kim Gordon (CKM, Sonic Youth, Free Kitten) and guitarist Bill Nace (X.O.4,Vampire Belt, Ceylon Mange), release their second studio album, ‘The Switch’.
"Their debut album together as Body/Head, ‘Coming Apart’ was more of a rock record - heavy, emotional, cathartic, spellwork in shades of black and grey. ‘The Switch’ is their second studio full length and it finds the duo working with a more subtle palette, refining their ideas and identity.
Some of it was sketched out live (if you’ve not had the fortune of seeing them in that natural environment yet, see 2016’s improvisational document ‘No Waves’) but much of it happened purely in the moment. On ‘The Switch’, their vision and focus feel truly unified.
If ‘Coming Apart’ was dark magic, ‘The Switch’ works with light, though it never forgets that these approaches are two sides of the same coin and that binaries - black/white, near/far, emotion/analysis, body/head - are made to be broken open and that the truth of things is in the energy between.
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch plays it like she means it on ‘Époques’, the french pianist and composer’s 2nd LP with FatCat’s 130701 label. It’s rare to hear a record that combines such direct gestures with keening experimental leanings while maintaining a palpable coherence, but that’s just what Emilie has done here. RIYL Max Richter, Richard Skelton, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Dustin O’Halloran
“Witnessing an increased assurance and dynamism in both Emilie's playing and composing, 'Époques' marks a big step forward for the London-based artist. A bold and adventurous album that alternates between passages of emotive, sinuous solo piano; stirring compositions for viola and cello and some beautifully sprawling electronics, it has been masterfully pieced together to further reveal a unique and intelligent sense of artistry, and a composer who really does deserve your full attention.
Losing some of the chill of Emilie's previous album, 'Époques' sound is both warmer and more honestly, emotively grounded. With a more coherent narrative drive, it retains the former's gentility and intricacy, whilst at times unravelling or teetering towards a palpably edgy, aggressive point of collapse. Over the course of its 44 minutes, the record modulates in intensity and moves between passages of sublime beauty to menace and despair. The tone for the album is outlined within the first two tracks. Opening with the sparse piano of 'Martello', which flowers into life and draws itself around you with sinuous vines and rising clusters of piano, it then falls into 'The Only Water', a rich yet murky, subterranean dreamscape of electronics and strings that hover and saw like Richard Skelton before evolving into some dark chamber duet, whilst slowly everything peels away into layers of delay. 'Redux' is another solo piano track, a meandering drift that winds its own sweet way before falling off into the glowering electronics and spaced cello figures of 'Overflow' and the dark, consumed-by delay piano of 'Fracture Points'. The brooding 'Ultramarine' opens a sound-field that lies closer to film score – edging perhaps towards the sensibility of former labelmate Jóhann's Jóhannsson's brilliantly unsettling 'Sicario' soundtrack.”
Pariah returns from extended hiatus with debut album ‘Here From Where We Are’ on Houndstooth making up for time since his last outing in 2012, and a couple of Karenn slammers with Blawan over the interim. In the key of the moment, it’s an ambient record presumably meant to soothe your bones after a hard night raving, or indeed to ease your swede from the intensifying travails of everyday life.
“Arthur Cayzer was a relative late comer to dance music. He grew up in various hardcore and punk bands before moving to London and being swept away by dubstep. After just six months messing around making his own stuff on Logic, Pitchfork coverage piqued the interest of the legendary R&S, and over the next two years he released three EPs with the Belgian label. Each one showed subtle evolution and further established Pariah on the international scene.
Since then, Arthur has continued to DJ round the world and play live with Blawan as Karenn. Musically, though, he’s been adrift. With countless unfinished projects cluttering his hard drive, he felt he’d pressured himself into making the music people expected, rather than music that was an honest reflection of himself. It was only by taking a step back to analyse the music that has always resonated with him—and where, how, when and in what context it did—that gave him a renewed confidence in his work. After one track was finished, an album of coherent pieces naturally followed.
Although Here From Where We Are is inspired by a series of very personal reflections, responses and reactions, Arthur is keen for people to process it in their own way, free from interference. Opening with the transcendental ‘Log Jam’ which spills into the huge, empty and plaintive ‘Pith’, the artist distills his experiences into an album of nine moving, multi-layered tracks, where peculiar textures combine with rich harmonies and absorbing melodies into a heady mix of abstracted environments, formally structured songs and sound collages. Absorbing from start to finish, Here From Where We Are is a long overdue return and accomplished new direction for this rejuvenated producer.”
Evil, wild-eyed industrial techno and gloomy doom core from USA’s Rita Mikhael a.k.a. E-Saggila
As with her previous form for Opal Tapes and last year’s Tools Of My Purpose 12”, the vibe is hardworking and darkly enigmatic, veering from epic gloom tramplers such as Glass Wing to cyberpunk techno on Reputation and bone-rattling hardcore sensibilities in Strive For Action and Your Hole in a way that strongly recalls everyone from Nkisi to AdamX and Xyn Cabal.
Don’t sleep; Rave!
Exploratory British violinist Laura Cannell presents captivating duets with André Bosman, who previously produced her ‘Quick Sparrows Over The Black Earth’ album, on a gripping session recorded live inside the 13th century stone walls of Ravingham Church in Norfolk, UK
“In wood and marsh and stone we make our reckoning”
Dispatched on Laura’s Brawl Records, ‘Reckonings’ is another prime example of her singularly experimental take on a cross section of ideas absorbed from early medieval music, traditional folk and renaissance and contemporary styles. Coupled with Bosman, she’s clearly an adept collaborator, as her previous works with Mark Fell, Sandro Mussida, Aby Vuillamy, and Rhodri Davies have proven, but we’d take this album as the strongest example of her strengths in union.
Laura plays violin with overbow and baroque bow, while André handles violin with amplifier and Rebec bow. The results are fiercely dissonant in a classic folk sense, as the two operate closely but with differences emerging in their bowing and the extra layer of disruption added by Bosman’s amplifier, which lends a wickedly coruscating bite to proceedings.
It’s definitely not your usual, pretty, cliched neo-classical work at all. There’s a snarling fire to their sound that seems to fulminate in the air, with each player bearing their fangs in a way that’s not aggressive but does connote a sort of slow, considered violence to our ears that’s much more effective than outright aggression. It feels as though they are absorbing and transmuting hundreds of years of hellish imagery and pain from the church itself into these recordings, giving a voice to lost souls.
‘Wandelaar’ is a time-dilating suite of solo piano, strings and electronic ambience realised by Haron Aumaj as the first release on a promising new Dutch label, Queeste - properly gorgeous stuff.
As first introductions go, Wandelaar is a memorable one. Over the course of seven pieces, Haron extends a modest invitation to his world with the spare, Roger Eno-esque air of solo keys and floating synth tons in Lotuseater, before opening out the vast symphonic panorama of Maangerij and seamlessly segueing into the windswept arps of Caverne with in a manner recalling a more tempered TCF.
The journey reaches a hallucinatory apex with the staggering proprioceptive sound design of Selenieten evoking febrile imagery of incomprehensible scale and dynamics, and we’re swept, dreamlike, into the playfully frothy, melodic keys of Foschia, which make for a stark contrast with the fleeting blue grey notes of Sepia that lead into the lip-tingling, head-thizzing expression of his Music for Elbows, charmingly evoking comparisons to Ryuichi Sakamoto at his most deliquescent, as much as a tipsy, sun-dazed Emahoy Tsegué-Maeryam Guèbrou work. It's an engrossing, brilliant album that comes highly recommended for those of you looking beyond Ambient-by-numbers fodder.
Yorkshire soulboy No.1, N.O.W., remixed in fine style by Moodymann, Illa J, and the group’s own DJ E.A.S.E.
Detroit vibes are set with Illa J’s slow glyding R&B bumps and the original version’s classicist combo of swanging subs and Sadie Walker’s burnished vocal, but the B-side heads for the ‘floor with DJ E.A.S.E.’s strutting club mix coming off like a mix of SoYo bass and filter house, while Moodymann seals the deal for 313 fiends with a super low slung booty shifter blessed with his personalized magic. Give this man a good vocal, he’ll give you a class remix!
Wild AF computer noise from Victor Moragues, cutting loose for the first time on Fluf
Morgues’ 0015A is perhaps the more sane of the two, whipping up warped chromatic convolutions with insectoid percussive pointillism and laser-guided stabs in meter-oblivious formations. You might struggle to dance to it, unless you have 17 legs, but its still a lot of fun.
On the other hand, 0015AA tilts headlong into rapid-fire, asymmetric atonality with intense, ravishing effect leaving the listener a puddle of meat and bones.
Infectious first release on Hakuna Kulala, a new sublabel from Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Tapes focussed on new club music explorations from the East African and Congolese Electronic Underground
Rey Sapiens drops three cuts of fizzing, weirdly abstracted soukous for the label’s début, relaying a taste of the hottest sound in Eastern Congo to dancers and listeners far removed from the sound’s source.
We’re familiar with soukous, but not with Rey’s mutant style, ranging from a blend of soukous and the kind of trippy, corkscrewing minimal techno FX you might expect from Romania on ‘Hakuna Ku Lala F’, whereas ‘Eya Eya 6600 volt’ places more attention on roving basslines, with glinting soukous guitars and whistles weirdly spun out with distant, rattling percussion to brilliantly sound like at least two different tracks playing at once, resulting the elusive 3rd track effect, and then there’s the stone cold oddness of ‘On est bon la Rey Dean Ca$h’, where he comes off like Él-G doing ketty Afrobeats - we shit you not!
Hauntingly mystic roots reggae set crammed with cherry-picked classics and obscurities by Jackie Mittoo, The Gladiators, Alton Ellis, Horace Andy, The Manchesters...
“This is the second installment of deep roots Rastafarian reggae at Studio One and features classic music from some of the most important figures in reggae music – Alton Ellis, The Heptones, Jackie Mittoo, The Gladiators – alongside a host of rarities and little-known recordings, such as a truly rare Mystic Revelation of Rastafari seven-inch single, Willie William’s first ever recording ‘Calling’ and Horace Andy’s righteous (and equally rare) masterpiece ‘Illiteracy.’
Black Man’s Pride 2 extends the legacy of Studio One’s ground-breaking path in roots reggae which began at the end of the 1960s and continued throughout the 1970s. The album tells the story of how the rise of Studio One Records and the Rastafari movement were interconnected, through the adoption of the Rastafari faith by key reggae artists – everyone from the Skatalites and Wailers in the 1960s, major singers such as Alton Ellis and Horace Andy at the end of the decade, through to major roots artists such as The Gladiators in the 1970s – and how Clement Dodd consistently recorded this heavyweight roots music throughout Studio One’s history.
The extensive sleeve-notes to this album also discuss the links between Rastafari and Studio One in time and place, noting how both the religion and Clement Dodd’s musical empire had their roots in the intense period of pre-independence Jamaica in Kingston, expanded in the 1960s following the visit of Haile Selassie in 1966, and how roots music then came to dominate reggae music in the early 1970s. Also discussed is how the outsider stance of both reggae music and the Rastafari movement relate back many hundreds of years to the original rebel stance of the Maroons, escaped slaves who set up self-sufficient enclaves in the hills of the Jamaican countryside.
There is also a track-by-track history by the noted Studio One writer Rob Chapman (Never Grow Old). This new album comes as heavyweight gatefold double vinyl (+ download code), deluxe CD and digital album."
Reticulated techno aces from Sigha
Rolling from the spheric carillon and scaly trills of Circular to the buzzing swarm of Gliss, and thru the acid wormhole of Flare to a sublime sort of gamelan techno in Hum recalling the unique resonances of the Colundi project.
Hardware-weilding Albert Van Abbe does his steely, brooding techno thing for Echocord Colour
The EP gears up with galloping kicks and dramatic string motifs on ‘Klangbilder 1’, followed by the floating, head-high jack of ‘Klangbilder 2’, before the hauntingly glum tones and opiated bass of ‘Klangbilder 3’ take hold at a more depressed tempo, and ‘Klangbilder 4’ renders a transfixing, beatless drone expanse recalling work by Alessandro Cortini.
Berlin’s Orbite extends an absorbing introduction to their dub house sound with the ‘Interstellar EP’, his first vinyl release, and the 2nd 12” issued by Echocord sub-label, Echo Echo
A-side is serene, strolling groove called ‘Skylar’ meshing windswept pads and synth voices to an effortlessly rolling bassline and clipped percussion recalling the hazy heyday of ‘00s minimalism, but with more fluid, earthy dynamic.
B-side is more varied, strafing from the heady dub poetry of ‘Moment’, featuring an unnamed and seductively ASMR-like vocal, to the gently scuffed textures, tidal sounds, and spheric bass of ‘Organi’.
Sully and Falty DL have a lark with a pair of 2 Bad Mice cuts off the ‘Gone Too Soon EP’
These remixes are classy. Sully lends his special spice to an artfully dextrous take on ‘Gone Too Soon’ making clear nods in the direction of Dillinja and Goldie, while Falty DL turns ‘Limit Of Paradise’ into a dreamy, E’d up ’91 style roller peppered with trademark breakbeat chicanery.
The first label compilation from PG Tune in a series of thematic installments. In the focus this time are Moscow raised producers and live performers, sharing a fresh vision of the globally evolving dancefloor universe.
Includes music by Philipp Gorbachev, Obgon, Interchain, DEKA, Dubrovsky and ushi333.
Thrilling south London producer Kamixlo takes his crown on ‘King Kami’ for Bala Club, following shots fired on PAN’s Codes series and production for Endgame and Blaze Kidd
Spearheading a virulent movement of rogue Latinx artists colliding dembow and dancehall rhythms with hardcore traces of gabber and noise, Kamixlo turns out some deeply rugged jams on King Kami, tilting in with the spiralling trance pads and slowed down, inverted kicks drums of Golden Trigger, and suztaining the percussive pressure into Mi Sabor, before the blunted introspection of I don't run from my demons... because sometimes I become them presents Kami’s more bittersweet side, and NXB4VA finds him embarking the pleasures of pure atonal noise...
Following his recent turn in Tbilisi soundtracking the protest against Bassiani’s closure to a massive crowd, Phase Fatale returns with ‘Reverse Fall’ for Ostgut Ton.
The beastly kicks, doomy synth voices and lip-biting 16th note arps of Reverse Fall sets the mood for a mean set taking the distorted half-step of Incision, the drilling high-wire tension of Blackbox, and a forceful, grungy zinger called Empty Whip.
Laurel Halo lands on Latency with a cinematic suite featuring Oliver Coates on cello and drums by Eli Keszler.
Making her first move since 2017’s remarkable ‘Dust’ album, Laurel takes inspiration from her score work for Metahaven and Ursula Le Guin’s translation of the ‘Tao Te Ching’ in pursuit of a quieter, more tactile and elusive sound, moving deeper into a sort of twilight avant jazz realm that calls to mind the recently uncovered Luc Ferrari salvo on Alga Marghen as much as flashes of Conlon Nancarrow and the diaphanous swirl of Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas.
It's immediately obvious that this is a special release in Laurel’s catalogue. Two 10 minute works bookend the release; the sublime title track with its oneiric mesh of woodwind, early electronic music gestures, and almost funeral organ; and at the opposite end, a stunning symphonic piece that unmistakably recalls Gas, but also unlocks that sound’s potential from the grid thanks to Keszler’s free meter and an embrace of kaotic harmony deeply rooted in Derrick May and Carl Craig’s Detroit classics.
But that’s not to discount the bits in between; they’re also brilliant. From her pairing of Keszler’s inimitable snare rushes with dark blue keys and smudged, plasmic electronics in ‘Mercury’, to something like Mark Fell commanding an underwater gamelan orchestra in ‘Quietude’, and the rapid flux of keys in ‘The Sick Mind’, this one has us rapt from every angle.
Dancefloor dreamer Vakula and french producer Rouge Mécanique version cuts from Dauwd’s ‘Theory Of Colours’ LP
Dauwd down strips his own ‘Analogisches Memories’ to a sylvan piano take for the entrée, while Rouge Mécanique takes ‘Murmure’ for a trippy, sun dazed stroll in the ‘Walking remix’, whereas their ‘Running Remix’ is driven by jabbing, effervescent jazz drums in brilliant style.
Vacuole holds his end with a deep blue house remix of ‘Macadam Therapy’ agitated by buzzing electronics to keep dancers in a state of hypnotic tension.
Naturally, Tresor 303 is a killer album of 8 driving acid studies by Italian maestro Donato Dozzy
On ‘Filo Loves The Acid’ Dozzy presents his first solo album since ‘The Loud Silence’ [Further Records, 2015]. But, where that album and his collaborations with Anna Caragnano, Bee Mask and Neel have tended to his experimental side, this is the first time that Dozzy has focussed on dance music for a long player, finally exploring the functions of his numerable 12”s in a broader, durational format, and with predictably immersive results..
It’s all supremely strong and slick gear, opening out with the panoramic pads and plangent tweaks of ‘Filo’ - named after his best bud, whom the album is dedicated to - before getting crafty with the slipping kicks of his ‘Vetta’ pounder and the overpronating drive of ‘Duetto’, to go hard for a late ‘90s skullhead style on ‘Nine ‘o Three’.
With ‘Back’ he brings a flavour of early ‘90s psycho-tribalist stompers, while ‘Vetta Reprise’ ramps the energy level to breakneck, and ‘TB Square’ settles its arse down to a more hypnotic swing jack, before ‘Rep’ rips out with a proper, brain-drilling riff and martial tattoo of the type you’d expect to hear in Tresor, cloaked in smoke and blinded by the strobes.
Massive, mutant dancehall album from Miss Red and Kevin Martin a.k.a. The Bug, launched as the first LP on the latter’s Pressure label following the Flame1 project featuring Burial.
Taking what he needs from ‘90s digi dancehall and the environmental atmospheres collected on his travels, The Bug furnishes Miss Red with a concrète-cracked batch of riddims that neatly juxtapose her float-like-a-butterfly, sting-like-a-bee bars.
For the biggest excitement check out their hammering fast chat killer Money Machine, the ruddy acidic wine of Big, and the bashy swag of Slay, but it’s definitely best consumed hot in one sitting, where the textures and space of The Bug’s fiercely unique, biting point production can really take a hold.
Topdown Dialectic make a sort of systems-based dance music that finds not-so-distant precedents in K. Leimer/Savant as much as Actress, NWAQ, Madteo and Jen Jelinek's Farben project. Over 8 tracks on their debut LP you’ll hear trace echoes of disco in frayed flux with fathoms-deep dub bass, soulful chords and swathes of electro-acoustic ephemera, somehow maintaining a sense of hypnagogic coherence that’s a total pleasure to follow.
“The dissociative electronic designs of incognito American producer Topdown Dialectic originated as a set of software strategies, rather than compositions in the traditional sense. The recordings are captures and edits of various nonlinear sound-systems, shifting conditions, and reactions to internal changes. Despite such a conceptual basis the music is hyper-sensory, evocative, and emotive, meshing the impossible sonic geometries of early UK warehouse bleeps and IDM stutters with the gritty spatial abstraction of Basic Channel to chart dynamic and diaphanous electronic topographies, at once decentralized, parallel, and environmental.
The eight identical-length tracks comprising this self-titled vinyl debut demonstrate the breadth of the Topdown sound world: shuddering, circuitous, textural, kinetic. Algorithmic arrhythmias phase and pulse and oscillate, chopped voice samples flutter within buffering static, peripheral melodic fragments glitch and glide in and out of time. It’s an aesthetic both autonomous and expressive, impersonal and inscrutable, in keeping with artist’s roots as a central operative in revered anonymous cassette collective, Aught. This is compelling, composite music, instigated as much as created, like obscure machinations occurring deep in the labyrinth of a server somewhere.”
A very welcome surprise. Don’t sleep on this!
Japanese percussionist and ambient pioneer Midori Takada meets her long lost daughter Lafawndah in an out-of-the-blue, self-released, 20 minute work scrolling from rippling rhythmelodies and glassy high registers to the entrance of Lafawndah, who beautifully sashays from operatic flights to R&B styles as Takada’s percussion rolls out and finally scales down to the smallest tinkles.
The debut album by UK/South African duo Okzharp and Manthe Ribane.
"Okzharp says 'most of the music came out of headphone moments in hotel rooms, planes and airports in the brief periods of time that we spent together, mainly on tour, in Paris and later Vienna', a city Manthe describes as a 'beautiful dream place'.
Okzharp describes Manthe as a ‘co-producer’, ‘she selected instrumental sketches and we developed them together, sometimes just keeping the bare bones or a melody or rhythm, or trying different elements or sounds.
Even thought the album was built long distance, the short periods they spent together were the ground zero for creativity, Okzharp recalls 'One particular moment in Milan last year, ‘we had a whole free day before our flight so we visited the Salone di Mobile design show. We were so
inspired by an installation there just walking around, listening to the amazing soundtrack.
That evening our flight was delayed, so we sat on the floor of the airport terminal putting musical ideas down for 'Time Machine' on the laptop speakers and writing the lyrics. "Tic Toc time, we'll be fine /Airport queues, cerulean blues / Viper trails cross the skies / Lights reflect in your eyes...'
The album has a softness and openness that contrasts the tougher sound of the EPs. Manthe explains, 'The new music is a 360 turn, It an expression of my “Lady” side, I grew up listening to Jazz, Classic and Gospel, I am a very soft spoken person, and it resonates with being confident with that. It's been crazy finding balance and finding a smart way to strengthen my weaknesses, I had to trust the process.’ Of the songs she says ‘They are part of the world now, I hope everyone feels motivated and inspired to be more after listening to the album.’”
One of the standouts from 0PN’s ‘Age Of’ album heralds its own single release, due to be packaged with two new cuts and the previously Japanese-only beauty, ‘Trance 1’
Intriguingly enough, ‘The Station’ is based on a demo intended for Usher that Daniel ‘0PN’ Lopatin wrote in his hotel room. He’s just shared the original demo online, and the topline is identical in both, but ‘The Station’ is also blessed with Daniel’s own autotuned vocal and aching trancey counterpoint to great effect.
Symptomatic of the sublime, rhythm-focused ‘Dissolvi’ album from Steve Hauschildt
'Alienself’ catches him describing an underwater scene of of slow, pulsing bass, FX and gently swaying fronds of melody like a distant echo of Drexicya, Klaus Schulze or B12.
‘Suicide By Sun’ marks the beautifully rapturous return of Erik Kowalski’s Casino vs Japan to heavenly realms of shoegaze and ambient electronica...
Arriving 20 years since his acclaimed self-titled début (we’re still waiting on a vinyl edition!) left its indelible impression, Erik Kowalski reprises an inimitable, expansive sound that keens with the dissonant lushness of MBV and evokes the nostalgic allure of classic BoC, yet somehow retains a patented watermark of shimmering qualities that is patently Casino Vs Japan, no matter what angle you view it form.
“Suicide By Sun accrued across countless home studio sessions, slowly sequenced into four sides of narcotic reverberation, reflective loops, and dream-soaked delay. Guitar gestures refract into twilit horizons; hymnal drones swell and shimmer; smeared notes sway like lullabies of quiet communion. This is pensive, patient, personal music, mapped with feeling and finesse by storied hands.”
On a proper percussive flex, Indonesia’s Marsesura, Uwalmassa and Wahono articulate indigenous rhythms with a crisp technoid tanggg for Don’t DJ’s Disk label...
Jakarta comes via Berlin in four refreshing ways, taking in the interlocking gamelan and gruff-to-sweet flute lines of Marsesura’s Asmoro, which weirdly also recalls some Timbaland or Neptunes beat from the early ‘00s, next to the splashing and rolling clangour and swagger of Uwalmassa’s first entry to the EP, Untitled 10. Their next follows flipside with combination of swingeing syncopation and fragrant vocal samples coming off like Shackleton dubbing Senyawa, while Wahono teases out the colourful, angular plumage of Pakar Gula Gending from a minimalist palette of gamelan chimes.
Bambounou alters his style with entrancing effect for Florian Meyer a.k.a. Don’t DJ’s Disk label
On all three tracks the Parisian producer moves perpendicular to the more standardised club styles of his previous releases; firstly in a drowsy exploration of lilting and grubbing grooves with the slow lope of Dernier Metro, then with a rugged intricacy that will baffle the posers but get right into the bones of the proper dancers on the mesmerising swang of Kosovo Hardcore, before trimming it all right back to pure percussive nous with the over-pronating, Basic Channel-esque hypnotism of Vvvvv
Gorgeous tribal rhythms vacillate with neo-classical strings and electronic eruptions and gauzy ambient chorales in an effortlessly diverse offering by cellist Teddy Rankin-Parker and composer/producer Michael Beharie, who has appeared on records with Laurel Halo and Greg Fox. LP mixed by Jim O’Rourke and mastered by James Plotkin
“Michael Beharie (New York) and Teddy Rankin-Parker (Chicago) first met more than 10 years ago while attending Oberlin College. Since graduating, Beharie and Rankin-Parker each veered into markedly different avenues. In addition to a consistent output of solo releases on NYC-label Astro Nautico, Beharie also recently joined up with the ever-confounding New York ensemble Zs (Northern Spy, The Social Registry, Troubleman Unlimited), recently performed on albums by Laurel Halo, Greg Fox & Colin Self, and is a regular composer for dance and film. Rankin-Parker became an in-demand cellist for his prowess in the work of improvisation, avant-garde music, and the more exploratory realms of indie pop, lending his talents to a wide array of bands and collaborators, such as Primus, Iron & Wine, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, Glen Hansard, Father John Misty, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Chicago Sinfonietta, and Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble.
But after a decade of geographic distance, the duo came together to write and record its collaborative debut, A Heart From Your Shadow. Rather than jump into stream-of-concious improvisation, Beharie and Rankin-Parker chose to focus the album's themes via intricately composed pieces. The end result could be described as protest music, brimming with intense energy, harrowing anxiety, and steadfast optimism. All of this finished with a few hired hands: produced by Michael Beharie, mixed carefully by Jim O'Rourke and mastered by James Plotkin.
"Intro" sets the grim scene and issues the album's M.O.. A doom symphony of urban anxiety, the song shows the expansive efforts this duo is able to accomplish. "Gully" offers muted mayhem that's highly synchronized and militantly percussive. It's an anguished two-step of hope and hopelessness. The hyper-repetitive patterns almost hypnotize you into a zoned-out stupor. "Icon" is a psych-freakout of sorts, but the bombast is counter-balanced by intermittent breaks of ambient compositions.
There's a deeper layer still, shown in "Smooth Face", equal parts meditatively uplifting and unsettlingly dissonant. Inner and outer anxieties resonate with actual police sirens in a swirl of tonal turmoil. "Fake Money" is a relatively laid-back drift down a river littered with musique concrète, rustic drones and effects pedal. "Roses" veers into backlit kosmische anthems. Midway through the track, things drop out completely into an open, fog-covered scene cloudy with keyboard-vocal tones. Closer "Petaluma" offers a sweet and sincere coda, chasing a fleeting moment of spontaneous beauty.
The orchestration chaos and permeated distortion of A Heart From Your Shadow is largely about healing, not fear.”
London’s Nokuit impresses a viscous drone distillation of broken Britain, melding dense, keening electronics with TV, Radio and YouTube samples to give a choking/absorbing, abstract/hyperrealistic and largely unsentimental perspective on blighty from the inside, looking in - conveying a sense of entrapment, paralysed by forces beyond control. Crushingly strong and kinda unmissable for heavier heads, especially fans of Stephen O’Malley, Dave Phillips, Lawrence English.
“NKT presents 'Patterns of Instability', a work of freeform experimental electronic music that moves through dense noise textures, visceral sound design and time-stopping ambient suites. Unfolding over 45 minutes, the new Nokuit album is an absorbing soundtrack probing the pervasive bewilderment of society. It’s a relentless journey where blurred melodies and abrasive soundscapes unsettle our most buried dissatisfactions and inner rebellions.
Swirling drones become a sonic lens which drifts and roams through the currents and threads within the contemporary landscape. Mingling amongst the town square demonstration, flipped upside down through the cameras into the news media rooms and editing suites, dragged up into helicopters looking down into streets and homes, then bounced across the globe by satellites floating in the atmosphere. Spam bots and malware, encryption data, analysis of YouTube uploads and text messages. Rather than focusing in on any specific geographical event, ‘Patterns of Instability’ takes a widescreen approach to our contemporary age of discontent and digs deep into timeless feelings of frustration.
Expanding the peculiar set of expressive tools built over precursor works ‘Analysis Paralysis’ and ‘Reality Disappears After Waking’, here Nokuit’s music reaches its most defined and highly evolved form yet. This is an observation on how we deal with and perceive our reality - whether or not we are in control of it - and our level of acceptance of the constant brainwashing that affects our lives. Each time Nokuit’s music faces the struggle from different angles and in ‘Patterns of Instability’ it zooms in on collective, political and individual battlefields.”
Wen hypnotises with the pendulous, crystalline designs of EPHEM:ERA, a sophomore album study on the mercurial warp and weft of modern UK dance music. Like Actress and Zomby before him, Wen also has a vital vision of what dance music can and should sound like. Taking the most forward elements of techno, jungle, garage and grime, he salvages what’s good and bends their time-tested functions into ear-snagging yet elusive new designs that express a pivotal sense of an eternally out-of-reach future.
Tessellating style and pattern at oblique angles, Wen teases their common binds and frictional differentials in a way that feels fresh yet familiar to anyone who has been participating with UK dance music cultures over the past generation.
In Silhouette he retro-fits sino grime with spiritual jazz in weightless pirouettes, while Time II Think rewires garage with slinky techno. Previous single Blips is a sterling example of where hardcore has become distilled/inverted into weightlessness without losing that lip-biting section of hardcore proper, and the uncentred axes of Grit and Off-Kilter catch him rendering garage-techno prisms with ambient abstraction, modulating the tension between raving urges and a certain sort of UK discipline that’s key to his sound.
Two-disc set featuring new artwork and a bonus disc of remixes and alternate versions, including a previously unreleased remix of Anymore from the band’s Will Gregory, a new version of 'Ocean' with new vocals from Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan and more.
Goldfrapp’s 7th studio album is arguably among their most potent, poignant to date, and that’s no mean feat for a band approaching their 20th anniversary. This may be due to the input of fresh new hands such as Bobby Krlic (The Haxan Cloak) and Leo Abrahams on a number of tracks, or simply down to Goldfrapp assuming their mantle as one of the world’s best-loved and persistent synth-pop units, but either way they’ve cooked up a goodun with Silver Eye.
Where their previous outing Tale Of Us  dabbled with pastoral indie pop alongside the usual smoky, noirish themes, they’ve returned to what they do best here; slickly glam and sensual synth pop proper, illustrated in glossy, sweeping DX7 synth contours and gilded with Alison Goldfrapp’s timeless grasp of impeccable, romantic songwriting.
The mingling of fresh young blood with Goldfrapp’s anachronisms makes for a record that could have been released at almost any point in their catalogue but somehow sounds very now, in a sort of ‘90s-referencing way - which we’d largely put down to the input of Bobby Krlic on four tracks in particular; on the glam stomp of opener Anymore, suggesting NIN meets Taylor Swift, in the sublime DX7 strokes and shoegaze guitar burn of Tigerman, and thru to the biting point crunch and detached vocal processing of Become The One, or the way how Moon In Your Mouth somehow sounds like a beautifully hyper-stylised version of Dido - and we mean that most respectfully.
The rest is sterling, too; highlights also to found in the lip-biting darkroom greazer, Systemagic; the perfectly curdled chords and Alison’s dry ice poise in Faux Suede Drifter; the Fever Ray-like techno-pop thump of Zodiac Black; or the misty-eyed beauty of Beast That Never Was, featuring Slip associate and Brian Eno collaborator Leo Abrahams.
Crooked, grubbing rhythms and salty noise lashes laced with mesmerising melody, from Stefan Schwander’s Harmonious Thelonious...
In that so-stiff-it’s-funky style indigenous to artists form the Rühr, on Background Noise Schwander racks up the rugged push and pull of zig-zagging rhythms in Elegant, along with a hunched sort of dancehall budge akin to Tolouse Low Trax gear in Masch Masch, while the pulsating Italo arps and spindly figures of Train recall Konrad Kraft’s recently reissued Arctica ace from late ‘80s Düsseldorf, and Remi sounds like a stripped form of robotic ‘80s highlife.
Burly grime x techno chimeras from Zeki, a known producer going incognito for Jack Dunning a.k.a. Untold’s Pennyroyal
Faithfully playing to a hardcore UK aesthetic, Zeki brings it hard and rude but tightly in-the-pocket at 140bpm, skanking out on proper, wide bass and singed 909s in Goofy, and like Jon E Cash meets Sleeparchive in Good Friday, whereas the 45rpm cut B-side raises the tension with needlepoint hi-hats and hypnotic acidic lixx in Organism, and fades out to the brute primitivism of Patchwork.
John T Gast and MC Boli operate at the apex of their esoteric powers on ‘Lighthouse’ for 5 Gate Temple, following Young Druid’s addictive début with an expansive, immersive suite highlighting unique intersections of new age ambient, jazz, avant-classical and arcane folk music
As Gossiwor, Gast and Boli share a remarkably intuitive mutualism on Lighthouse. They may draw from a similar pool of references to many other artists working within the ambient zeitgeist, but smartly manage to imbue their works with a sense of magick realism, rather than the smell of stale bedrooms and cheese.
Over the course of 73 minutes and 9 songs, some of them stretching over 14 minutes, they properly get into the vibe, alchemising a fascinating new alloy of their respective styles which refuses to be reverse engineered by listeners. The results are patently their own, coolly scrolling from something like Jani Christou in dub on Domestic Saga 1, to raindance ambient in Oceana Pt.2, and a time-stopping ambient regression to underwater futures with Lighthouse, and the surreal peal of Ava Maria.
Under the Church Andrews guise, Kirk Barley a.k.a. Bambooman takes cues from SND, Errorsmith, Gábor Lázár and Rian Treanor for a crooked, mercurial session of computerised funk
“UK based Church Andrews gifts Health with 4 exercises in crisp hyper-rhythmic digital synthesis. Constructed utilising algorithmic composition techniques, just intonation tuning systems and experiments in time signature and morphing temporals.”
Grand, sweeping neo-classical statement by Polish cellist Karolina Rec, a.k.a. Resina
“Two years on from her critically acclaimed, self-titled debut, Polish cellist Resina (aka Karolina Rec) returns with her sophomore album for FatCat's influential 130701 imprint. A less fragile, far more immediate album, 'Traces' sees the Warsaw-based artist working a sound which moves closer towards the listener, with increased viscerality and weight. It's a bold, dynamic and assured step forward and an album fully deserving of your attention.
Looped, processed and layered with increased dynamism, on 'Traces', the cello moves from discrete chamber intimacy to shimmering ambient miasmas and more urgent, full-blooded tracks that reach out and grab you. There are points of delicate beauty and moments where everything seems about to melt into chaos. Whilst Karolina's voice appeared only briefly (to stunning effect) on her debut's final track, this time around it assumes much greater prominence, featuring on almost half the album's tracks. Non-verbal, her vocals function as a beautiful, haunting textural layer, conjuring a sense of near sacred purity and longing. Besides the looped and layered sounds/ rhythms coaxed from cello and voice, 'Traces' expands her palette with contributions from drummer / percussionist Mateusz Rychlicki adding body and drive on a number of tracks.
'Traces' was recorded in December 2017 at renowned Polish producer/ musician Maciej Cieslak's studio in the Wola district of Warsaw. One of the city's uglier areas, Wola was massively devastated during the last war, being the site of both the Jewish ghetto and Warsaw Uprising. During the album's production, the pair often discussed palpably feeling some heavy, dark energy of the place, something of which has doubtless leaked into the album. Drawing upon some dark and timely themes and finding grounding in the worrying / unstable era in which we find ourselves, its title refers to the observing of memories; to remnants surviving violence or the ravages of time; to parts missing or disfigured.”
Footwork OG, RP Boo keeps the style mutably rude and forward with I’ll Tell You What!, a début album declaration of dancefloor war arriving nearly 30 years into a DJ/production curve that started with him handling the decks for original Chicago dance crew, the House-O-Matics, and has seen him release music for Dance Mania before leading Footwork’s global expansion via Planet Mu.
I’ll Tell You What!, is Kavain Space a.k.a. RP Boo’s first collection of new material to be released shortly after it was written. In other words it’s his first album, proper, if we consider that his pivotal Legacy and Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints releases were compiled from archival material. But pedantry aside, I’ll Tell You What! is simply another thrilling RP Boo record crammed with unique rhythmelodic arrangements.
Born in the resistance of Chicago’s streets to its endemic violence, but also heavily inspired by Boo’s incessant touring schedule over the last five years (if you haven’t witnessed him DJing, you’re missing out) the album is as much about the Chi as his hard-won experience of how to translate Windy City funk to foreign feet, and finds him stripping back the samples to locate leaner, more rugged beat structures and hardcore basslines that marks the difference compared to his earlier work.
If we’re playing favourites, the rhythmic crossfire of At War is definitive RP Boo, while Cloudy Back Yard’s percolated chorales and dark B-line are just mad abstract and inexorably funky, and that mutual, underlying connection with the nuttiness of UK hardcore really comes thru strongly in the cranky prang of Bounty and the breathless flow of U Belong 2 Me. But fuck any more chat about this one, you’re only ever going to understand it properly with your ears and feet.
Infectious hot-steppers meshing belting vocals to pointillist polyrhythms by fuji master drummers on talking drums, trap drums and electronic percussion. Recorded in modern day Lagos, Nigeria
“‘Synchro Sound System & Power’ features the music of Nigeria Fuji Machine, which includes some of Nigeria's finest ‘Fuji’ master drummers and singers, and is newly recorded by Soul Jazz Records in Lagos.
Fuji is the heavily percussive and improvisational style of Nigerian popular music, at once modern and yet deeply rooted in the traditional Islamic Yoruba culture of Nigeria.
Here on this album Nigeria Fuji Machine’s striking and powerful lead vocalist Taofik Yemi Fagbenro soars above a wild and energetic backdrop of polyrhythms played on traditional talking drums, trap drums, electronic and street percussion to create a powerful wall of intense sound.
Fuji is hi-energy street music, heavily percussive which evolved out of the Islamic celebration of Ramadan, which became a major event in mid-20th century Lagos. Groups of young men walked through Muslim neighbourhoods at night singing improvised ‘wéré’ music to the accompaniment of pots, pans, drums, bells and anything else available, waking believers for the early morning prayer. By the early 1970s this music had crossed-over into popular Nigerian culture where it came to be known as Fuji, first made popular by the artist Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, as the music began to be performed commonly at parties and social events.
In the 1970s and 1980s three Nigerian artists – King Sunny Adé, Chief Ebonezer Obey and Fela Kuti – all secured international major record deals bringing popularity to the Nigerian musical styles of Juju (Adé and Obey) and Afro-Beat (Fela Kuti’s unique mixture of highlife, funk and jazz) abroad, but in the process ignoring much of Nigeria’s rich musical landscape. Fuji is, alongside Highlife, Juju, Afro-Beat, Sakara, Afro-Reggae, Waka, Igbo rap, Apala and numerous others – one of these central styles of Nigerian music.
The singer Barrister described the music as follows: ‘Fuji music is a combination of music consisting of Sakara, Apala, Juju, Aro, Afro, Gudugudu, and possibly Highlife.’ Juju performer King Sunny Adé described the difference between the two styles of Fuji and Juju somewhat competitively thus: ‘Fuji music is more or less like my music without guitars. It’s like I’m singing in a major key and they are singing in a minor. The music itself is the music of Juju music.’
Today Fuji remains a powerful popular music with deep and powerful Islamic roots which continues to modernise and attract new generations of young Nigerians and Nigeria Fuji Machine’s ‘Syncho Sound System & Power’ is a powerful and intense musical experience.”
Brooding sophomore album by Manchester basin specialist Walton, following from the ‘Beyond’  album with Hyperdub
Precision tooled with a paucity of ingredients drawn from sino-grime, dubstep, and bashy dancehall, Black Lotus finds Walton optimising his sound for pressurised impact on big rigs as well as headphone use, giving up some strong highlights in the bolshy No Mercy feat. a barking vocal by Riko Dan, thru to clenched swang of Mad Zapper and the tempered percussive rage of Angry Drummer.