Melt-on-the-mind, spiritual jazz-funk, reissued for the first time by Switzerland’s High Jazz. RIYL John Coltrane, Pharaoh sanders, McCoy Tyner and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Roy Ayers
“Ambiance’s first album released in 1979 on Da Mon Records, Los Angeles. Amazing private spiritual jazz-funk/fusion LP, now hard to find. This album is magnificent in its entirety, no fillers. Some of the best fusion on record!
Led by saxophonist Daoud Abubakar Balewa who studied formal classical music and received instruction from Frank Mitchell (Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers) and Jackie McLean (Blue Note records), Ambiance incorporates Brazilian and Latin flavours with a righteous and soulful Afrocentric jazz edge.”
Theo Parrish conducts a live take on his ‘First Floor’ album classic from Myele Manzanza (drums), Mark de Clive-Lowe (piano, keyboards, electronics), and Scott Maynard (double bass)
Guided by a sketch of the original ‘Love is War For Miles’, and the following notes - 1) start with unrecognised fragments 2) find our way into the rhythm 3) hit the melody four times 4) deliberately break everything and look for the unknown 5) find our way back home - the trio properly cut loose for ‘floors that like to be challenged, while Theo contributes an extra jazzy splash.
‘Ambient 4: On Land’ is Brian Eno’s eighth solo studio album and the final instalment of his foundational ambient series that started with ‘Music For Airports’
Recorded between 1978 and 1982, ‘On Land’ sees Brian Eno take a decidedly darker turn, using samples and tape loops from the cutting room floor of previous sides to create a soundsphere of seamlessly shadowy ambient drift.
Perhaps most intriguingly here, Eno found the synthesiser to be of “limited usefulness”, and turned his attentions to physical objets, such as pieces of chain and sticks and stones, to shape what is effectively a form of ambient concrète music, rather than the gentle synthy lushness it’s more commonly associated with.
Featuring guest contributions from Jon Hassell (trumpet) and Bill Laswell (bass guitar), and engineered by ‘Danny’ Lanois, ‘Ambient 4: On Land’ is a total classic of eldritch-tinted, British ambient pastoralism, with all the dark underbelly that notion entails.
Ruggedly variegated debut LP of Detroit gear from the keenly watched Black Noi$e, with additional production by Footworker DJ Taye and FXHE’s John FM
Showcasing the full extent of his style, ’Illusions’ follows from a 12” with Portage Garage Sounds and a hip hop EP with Navy Blue to check off all corners of Rob Mansel a.k.a. Black Noi$e’s sound.
Between its 10 tracks he proves equally adept at slow, mid, and fast tempos, and a fine range of moods, best heard in the crooked beatdown swang of ‘Ninety6’ with DJ Taye and John FM; in the Robocop techno of ‘Jump Off A Building’; with the uptempo Jit hydraulics of ‘Pandemic’, and on a nasty-ass drill depth charge, ‘B Lvde III’.
Originally released in 1999 and since long out of print.
"This first volume consists of recordings made on the Motorpsycho Mobile during the Trust Us tour of Europe that started 6th May 1998. Some 40 hours of live Motorpsycho was captured on tape, and these are the songs the band felt represented the musical content of the tour the best."
The Kingston/Manchester axis comes correct with a killah family affair from Equiknoxx and Swing Ting.
On the nice ’n nasty Rum & Buckfast Riddim, Rtkal, Shanique and Fox trade bashment commanding bars in a mix of classic but up-to-the-second party vibes.
Synkro takes cues from the ancient Japanese tradition of Gagaku on his 2nd self-released 12”
A-side ‘Gagaku’ is a genteel dramaturgy of Synkro’s signature harmonic progressions, drizzly atmospheres and fragile 2-step beats executed with patience and elegant. B-side, German D&B producer Frederic Robinson offers an early James Blake sort Airhead-like remix of ‘Gagaku’, beside a floatation tank-ready ambient passage, ‘Cloud Musik’.
Amazing, sui generis actions from Poland’s Mołr Drammaz duo and drummer Jacek Tokarski, taking in Coil-esque electronic abstraction, free jazz and ambient sound poetry under their broad wingspan on the 1st volume in “an undefinable series” unearthed by LFI
No strangers to the strangest strains of modern music, Lullabies For Insomniacs’ catalogue marbles thru the murk to highlight overlooked delicacies from spaces between the avant-garde, the DIY, and the occult. Mołr Drammaz’ ‘Times Before Emojis’ lies right in the middle of that triangulation, rounding up a baker’s dozen audities conceived in Poland between 1996-2012, mostly on their Mik Musik.! label. And, like their label name, the duo employ an equally free use of punctuation in their music, a refreshingly free-spirited, psychedelic style that sits in great company on LFI beside the likes of Sugai Ken, László Hortobágyi, Dino J.A. Deano.
Sequenced for sensory immersion and riddled with surprises, the compilation keens thru a number of reverberating digital drone pieces before shredded glitch gives way to a muddy systolic thrum and scrambled vox - all quite in/unhuman, before they suck us into what sounds like Smegma with a jazz drummer, and whorls of possessed tape loops. Turn over and it only gets more mercurial, vacillating vortices of Autechrian complexity with rabid batacuda rushes, surreal solo piano vignettes and fractured toytronica, culminating in the LP’s straightest but almost weirdest cut in the hobbling avant-pop of ‘Song Instead Of Grass’.
Somewhat of a return to the sparse, pared-back sounds of ‘Seven Swans’. While it sounds like a memory, it does not trade on pastiche or nostalgia. Each song begins with a fragile melody that gathers steam until it becomes nothing less than a modern hymn. The album accomplishes the rare thing that any art should achieve, particularly in these noisy and fragmented days - by seeking to understand, Sufjan makes us feel less alone…"
Architect of the present future, Chris Carter goes retro hauntological on CCCL Volume One, his first solo album in 17 years.
Since his previous album, released in the last century, he’s been busy taking his influential duo with partner Cosey Fanni Tutti to a natural close, and likewise seeing thru their trio with Nik Colk Void, while at the same time diversifying his bonds with remixes of the contemporary field, from Factory Floor to Nisennenmondai and Perc. Here, however, the enormously pivotal artist paints a sonic self portrait indulging an unswerving thing for the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and the malleability of modular synths, all with a mixture of wide-eyed, youthful innocence and high end studio nous executed to nostalgic degrees.
In the classic framework of hauntology, Carter’s nostalgia is for a lost, assuaged or thwarted synthetic future he experienced explicitly and cosmotically growing up during the ‘space age’, when synthesisers were vehicles for interstellar and interdimensional travel and acted as the connective ligament of counter-cultural likeminds across the world, so its easy to understand why he can’t shake that feeling here.
Like a grown up kid with all the kit he could ever dream of, Carter brings his ideas to life in uniquely tactile style, working like a sculptor with broad palette of amorphous materials that continue to react and mutate after he’s fixed them in place, at his legendary studio in Norfolk. Each of the 25 tracks feels to offer a window onto worlds of encrypted kinetic energy, fulminating figments of the imagination which come to life in shapeshifting, plasmic forms made all the more “real” and hyperstitious thanks to his application of AI like vocaloids which populate the album, cropping up as alien sirens, glossolalic darkroom murmurs, and fully-fledged “singers” in their own strange right.
The result is a uniquely absorbing album tied together by Carter’s smart internal logic, a mazy manifestation of bio-electronic feedback systems that gives voice to the machine as much as the man operating it in a way that will really speak to followers of classic electronic music.
Jesus this album is incredible. Heather Leigh channels Kate Bush and Coil via lapsteel guitar and staggering vocals on a her new album for Editions Mego. Following her previous solo LP ‘I Abused Animal’ for Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ with a record that few beyond her inner circle could have predicted. Epic in scope, devastating on impact. Do not miss this one!
“Heather Leigh takes her Throne as queen of pedal steel with a suite of heartbleed ballads cauterised with burning riffs. After the rawness of its precursor I Abused Animal, Throne is a record of late night Americana and heavy femininity; intimate love songs smoked in sensuality. The songs on Throne are woozy, gorgeous and uncomfortable, smothered in thick layers of bass but lifted by multitracked vocals. These are rich song forms that stand in contrast to the stripped down steel in her duo with Peter Brotzmann.
Prelude To Goddess sashays in wearing leopard print jeans under the twinkling fluorescent illuminations of the British seaside, like Brighton Rock with extra bass. It is followed in by Lena – arguably Leigh's Jolene – a perverse love song soaked in a subversive sexuality, weighed down with a heavy pulse. Soft Seasons is anchored with sunken beats shrouded in wailing, growling steel and an earwormy melody. Gold Teeth, the longest track on the record, crests and breaks in waves; ecstatic peaks balanced and echoed by melancholic troughs. It soars on an updraft, and from cosmic heights dives seaward into a gnarly and riotous pedal steel breakdown, before catching the breeze again.
Days Without You and Scorpio & Androzani are shorter, intimate songs, in the latter the synths seethe and the steel bows and bends as Leigh's voice falters above a Greek chorus of shadows and reflections. But this isn't autobiography, and Throne departs on Days Without You, a confrontationally unfinished romantic song, anxious with half-thoughts and missed connections. It glides into the night on stilettos leaving unanswered questions, in a fug of psychic disturbance and lovesick sensuality.
Leigh's artwork (which she photographed and designed) is a visual mirror of the songs on Throne. It is an album of cosmic echoes, abstractions and introspection, of characters and stories that make up Leigh's first best pop record, its melodies and hooks set alight with the fiery core of her unique and distinctive pedal steel. - Jennifer Lucy Allen, 2018”
Grandiose synth compositions from the Posh Isolation barracks...
“Cut from the same cloth as last year's double-cassette, 'Like All Mornings,' Vanessa Amara's new album trails shorthand piano pieces and wilted strings through magnificent, electro-acoustic surrounds, often settling into buzzing, syncopated reveries.
'Manos' takes its name from an abbreviated term of endearment. Spoken in this form, it's an affectionate and inclusive gesture from friend to friend, or indeed from gang member to gang member. Vanessa Amara seemingly take their cues from either usage. Their new album feels hesitant to reveal its parts, and is perhaps a document of the limits of what can be revealed, a memorial to its own process as it winds itself in and around its delicately hued landscape.
Though beginning with a morose gait, the album quickly turns over. And revealing its softer self, the clarity of the moving string arrangements hang in the air like fine mist. Everything settles against surfaces as the day breaks, opening up the space, though eventually condensing into the unnerving crescendo of the album's final piece. A recurrent, gentle whirring, much like a gramophone’s needle, tracks through much of 'Manos.' It carefully steadies the listener into a mode of measuring duration, a meditative self-awareness that delivers Vanessa Amara's world.
Always intricate, and effortlessly tender, 'Manos' is an album as textural as it is melodic, and it is certainly the most exquisite suite of works to have been presented by Vanessa Amara thus far.”
Immense, churning debut from 55 y.o. Japanese producer Baptisma, backed with a badass Hodge remix for Don’t DJ’s Disk label
Baptisma is the production alias of 菊永洋, who runs an art space and concert venue called Spacio Rita. We’re not sure how long he’s been making music, but his first release is highly accomplished, sounding out a pure rhythm & noise session that echoes Cut Hands’ investigations of Congolese percussion and occluded atmospheres as much as Don’t DJ’s own tricksy rhythms or the Indonesian artists spotlighted on Disk’s celebrated ‘Animisme’ 12”.
In his three originals, Baptisma turns out a grittily fluid flood of drums and dynamic, layered atmospheres, carrying a heavy momentum from the voodoo of ‘Pes#1’ thru the militant trample of ‘Pes#2’ to a sublime mesh of war-cry horns and slow, keening gamelan structures in ‘Pes#3’. Hodge is honoured with the task of remixing ‘Pes#1’, returning a colder distillation of pinched modular bleeps, deadly bass drum and bodily cross-rhythms.
Senyawa stir primordial spirits in the cosmically heavy doom and psych explorations of ‘Sujud’, the Indonesian duo’s stellar debut with Sublime Frequencies.
Since arriving to global underground acclaim in 2015 with the ‘Menjadi’ LP on Rabih Beaini’s Morphine Records, Senyawa have established themselves among the most beguiling acts in circulation right now by meshing traditional Indonesian music with elements of doom metal and free improvisation to realise a sound truly without precedent.
Judging by what we’ve previously heard from Rully Shabara Herman and Wukir Suryadi’s duo, ‘Sujud’ is unmistakably their definitive and most powerful album yet. Across seven tracks they explore phantasmagoric scenes of throat singing and abyss-staring doom guitars on the incredible ‘Tanggalkan Di Dunia’, alogn with paralysingly haunting psych-folk on the title track, before jamming gibber-jawed vocals and churning metal riffs on ‘Perjuru Menyatu’, and rounding out with the possessed vocals and grunting guitars of ‘Kembali Ke Dunia’.
“Sujud, their premier release on the Sublime Frequencies label, is the latest chapter of this very special and singular sound of the past, present, and future. The basic theme of the record can be summed up with one extremely powerful Bahasa Indonesian word, Tanah, which translates to "soil-ground-land-earth". Shabara's vocals are an expressive force, conjuring spirits from the soil with a deep humility and respect for the land and their existence in the universe. Suryadi has built a new guitar for these tracks and pushes the Senyawa sound into new territory, utilizing delay, loops, and other effects creating grounded backdrops of folk metal, punk attitudinal, and droning earthscapes - providing Shabara the perfect context to explore his whispering poetry and jagged, sharp-as-a-kris animistic powers. There is simply no other sound like it and Sublime Frequencies is thrilled to present this new direction in their discography.”
Wolfgang Voigt commits one of GAS's most darkly sublime albums with 'Rausch', which arrives nearly one year on from Narkopop to remind us his position as the prince of ambient techno.
Meant to be listened to from end to end without interruption, but also included as seven discrete parts for those who need them, Rausch unfurls in diaphanous form along a depressed heartbeat march of padded kicks swept with distant horns and string swells in the faithful, time-honoured style of Wolfgang Voigt's finest recordings.
The difference lies in the feeling conjured by these swollen crests of abstracted instrumental textures and timbre. Rather than dreaminess or tranquilised melancholy, this one feels portent, impendingly stygian, as though summing up humankind’s incessant trudge toward a bleak unknown horizon, resulting in the emergence of sounds more akin to Sunn 0))), with his entrenched kicks struggling to break the gloom, and poetically losing out in the end.
Following a sold out run of Salm Vol.1, Arc Light Editions closes the year with a second volume of Gaelic psalm singing. The recordings documented here are from the same psalm singing sessions as the first, and both together represent a complete collection.
"This is music that is transcendent and together, about the individual and the earth, movingly spiritual with or without belief. The sound comes in great waves, swells of sound that break and roll around the space. The texture relies on the individuals: this is group singing where the individual is preserved, elevated, but together.
The recordings of Gaelic Psalm singing presented in the release are among the best ever captured. They document a living tradition, a form of religious singing from the Hebrides in Scotland, which is still practiced in Lewis. In Gaelic psalm singing, a precentor leads, and from here voices follow, moving together in great swells like the murmurations of birds.
These recordings of Gaelic Psalm singing were originally made over two evenings in the Back Free Church on the Isle of Lewis in October 2003. The singing was spontaneous and totally unrehearsed. The recordings are now presented on vinyl for the first time by Arc Light Editions. A precentor leads off with the first lines of a psalm, and the congregation follows, some faster than others, and each one remains discernible. In his notes to the original release, Calum Martin writes that the form, called precenting (where one person puts out the line and the congregation responds) while not exclusive to Gaelic free church traditions, is in Lewis particularly influenced by the pibroch style of free ornamentation. It’s through this, he says, that the distinctive emotional swell of sound emerges. The sound relies on the congregation’s individual responses to the melody and the individual precentor’s leading. The musical term is free heterophony.
Arc Light Editions has worked directly with DR Macdonald at the Bethesda Hospice and Calum Martin on this release, and we thank them for their time. A portion of the profits from this release go directly to Bethesda Hospice, in accordance with the original release."
Exquisite mix of Angolophile shoegaze pop jangle and washed-out widescreen Texan melancholy...
“Nicolas Nadeau audaciously bares all as the frontman of Austin’s preeminent shoegaze ensemble Single Lash on their debut LP Providence out October 26, 2018. Heavy walls of effects drenched guitars and synthesizers back Nadeau’s dejected vibrato and woefully honest song writing, epitomizing the art of crestfallen chic. Single Lash delivers introspectively satiating songs that emote the existential struggles of heartache and loneliness through thick layers of feedback draped across a driving rhythm section. Providence is the breakout effort from Single Lash, captivating audiences with a seductive embrace while offering an engaging and cathartic release.
Providence is Nadeau’s pursuit of genuine self-examination. There is an underlying confession throughout the album’s eight tracks, eloquently expressing the pain of regret with poetic and humble exposition. The charismatic lament of songs like “Broken Tongue” and “Unheard” is profoundly candid and broadly accessible emotional territory that carries a visceral and personal appeal. Gracefully embodying the true essence of the lyrics, Single Lash’s lush instrumentation vividly contextualizes the nuanced hues of Nadeau’s voice with intuitive reply. Acoustic 12-string guitar and piano on “Shredder Orpheus” and “Visitations” complement the sustained trails of fuzz and reverb while bass and drums hold down a smooth and catchy structural anchor. Single Lash’s dense subject matter is conveyed through unabashed pop melodies and irresistible hooks on “Frozen Honey” and “Come True” giving the listener immediate satisfaction while instrumentally descending into tone authorship. From powerful lyrics and meticulous musicianship to the ominous cover art by Nadeau himself, this album is the culminating effort of Single Lash to establish themselves as an important new voice in underground music.
Like many great songwriters and performers who came before, Single Lash has ingeniously dialed into the tribulations of the human condition. Nadeau’s poignant persona and musical artistry make Providence a destructively beautiful and rewarding master work.”
DJ Sotofett joined in an Afrobeat session by Versatile bossman Gilb’r and previous collaborators Maimouna Haugen, Haugen Inna Di Bu & Stiletti-Ana
Played, mixed and mastered for authentic ’70s earfeel, ‘C’Est L’Aventure’ is a proper rug cutter wrapping up Stiletto-Ana’s virulent congas with drum programming by Sotofett and Gilb’r and funky bass vamps by Haugen Inna Di Bu, moving in three distinct sections use to take the ‘floor with them. The B-side dub is a peach; all West African percussive fluidity and psychedelic layers of synth and organ, leading to an extra spicy organ coda in the final third.
Proggy Teutonic tech-house-trance-pop
“Giorgia Angiuli's debut album In a Pink Bubble channels the artists effervescent persona and own bubbly style in a 12 track-long, honest musical expression. Drawing inspiration from her first worldwide tour, where life on the road was impacted by personal loss, the album title In a Pink Bubble captures the essence of the artists mindset, caught in between the artistic world and real life: I felt like in a pink bubble, between memories and new experiences, between darkness and colours. Brandishing an immersive sonic sphere, the classically trained musician played and recorded all instruments throughout the album, including her favourite weapons of choice, from her beloved 60s guitar to vintage analog synths like the Moog Sub37, Juno 106, the infamous O-B-6 synth and more.
With In a Pink Bubble, Giorgia Angiuli refines her signature sound across a range of tempos, in a project that can be appreciated both for its intricate groundings and beautiful simplicity.”
Enigmatic collective De Leon, known for a pair of cult tape releases on the Aught label, casts the 3rd release on Mana, following their sides by Pierre Mariétan and Benedict Drew with a display of rippling rhythmelodies and sloshing patterns, including some ripped from their Blowing Up The Workshop mix and all bound to resonate with fans of Shackleton, Don’t DJ, or Burnt Friedman.
Blurring distinctions between field recording and electro-acoustic performance in a gauzy sort of esoteric dance music, De Leon have worked coolly and obscurely in pursuit of an outernational spirit since their pair of tapes for /\\Aught in 2014-15. On Mana they pick up where we last heard them on a mix of exclusive productions for the BUTW mix series, rendering material from that set along with gear produced around then, or even more recently (we’re not sure to be honest, they don’t give much away).
The vibe is essentially a sort of trans-cultural moiré of ideas, converging elements of gamelan, West African tribal drums and Native American pipes in six seamless dream sequences that feel at times like Villalobos conducting Marginal Consort or at others like a naturally occurring delta of plugged in new age techno which has mutated in order to inoculate dancers against rigid metric conformity.
Spectral songcraft from Swiss trio Tout Bleu, charting a curious journey sure to appeal to followers of ÉLG, Gazelle Twin, The Velvet Underground, Coil
Bending drone-pop, darkwave electronics and keening jazz, rock and folk elements to their will, Simone Aubert’s Tout Bleu forge a form of, in their own words “Atmospheric No Wave”.
The results were recorded at Black Bunker Studio in Geneva, documenting Simone’s jibber-jawed glossolalia in a number of brooding situations, at times sounding like a call to prayer for far flung Mongolian tribes, at others resembling a sort of Japanese gagaku, and most often with an acutely trippy, heavy-lidded hypnagogic effect that leaves us subtly weirded out.
Dreamlike second collaboration between Félicia Atkinson and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, a deeply affecting play of contrasting textures, densities and space that comes very highly recommended if you’re into Ryuichi Sakamoto’s collaborations with Alva Noto, La Monte Young, GRM’s 1970’s output, classic 4AD/Cocteau Twins, that incredible Autechre remix of Tortoise, or indeed Félicia Atkinson's scene stealing Hand In Hand album from last year...
‘Limpid as the Solitudes’ is the steeply immersive second collaboration between Félicia Atkinson and like-minded, explorative spirit Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. Both highly regarded for a sensually tactile approach to sound, they bring the best out of each other in an abstract, spectral form of songcraft indebted to shoegaze as much as concrète dreamscaping, millennial glitch works, and downtown drone classics.
Following from Felicia’s superb ‘Hand In Hand’ album and Jefre’s ‘Fragments of a Season’ side with Alexis Georgopoulos (Arp), the Franco-American duo humbly dissolve their egos into a sublime suite of hypnagogic drowse belied by a sense of widescreen detail and unpredictable arrangements that simultaneously beckons eyelids to half mast whilst encouraging listeners to remain in the waking world. This gentle push and pull of forces is a wonder to undergo, with an uncanny capacity to make time feel elastic, even polymetric and vertiginous.
To describe the album as ambient would indicate a much too passive engagement with the sound - leave it to play in the background and you’ll miss a lot of the joy. Felicia and Jefre describe the record as a series of postcards - “things and sounds that happen vertically as a slow ascension, vessels communicating in dreams”.
The first half breaks down to three pieces where fractured snatches of field recordings emerge over viscous drone beds and diffuse daubs of original instrumentation. Together, they resemble a form of sonic picnolepsy of overactive minds (yours and ours), where we attempt to fill in the gaps of their keening and precipitous collage of field recordings and original instrumentation, but soon enough succumb to their dream logic between he fragrant open space of ‘And The Flower Have Time For Me’, and the swirling axis of ‘Indefatigable Purple’, where Félicia’s ASMR murmurs mingle most beautifully detached bass pulses under a canopy of smudged keys.
But to be honest that all feels like preparation for the subtly keeling sensation impressed by the B-side, a 17 minute drift into vaporised sentiments that requires the connective tissue of your body and massaged senses to become complete.
'Colleen Et Les Boites A Musique' ("Colleen and the music boxes") is Colleen's most arresting and sublime offering to date - constructed entirely from the impossibly beautiful sounds of chiming music boxes.
Opening with the clanking and winding of 'John Levers the Ratchet', this is the perfect introduction, as if the record were being wound like a music box to run across its 40 minute life-span before returning to stillness.
The music box has, of course, been used before within a contemporary framework (Aphex Twin's "Nanou" for one), but the way Schott composes seems so obviously matched with the mechanical and naïve qualities we hear that she seems to own the concept.
"Colleen Et Les Boites A Musique" is in fact so sublime that her output to date seems to have been merely leading up to this serendipitous moment - concept and execution coming together for a wondrous display of simplicity and beauty. Like the soundtrack to your favourite half-remembered fairytale, you won't find a warmer, more inviting record this year.
By a stroke of pure luck, Carola Baer’s intoxicatingly dreamy avant-pop side ‘The Story of Valerie’ is made available for the first time via Concentric Circles, a new label minted by Jed Bindeman - the co-owner of Freedom To Spend with Pete Swanson
Apparently discovered in the goodwill bins of a Portland, OR thrift shop during the short window before said bins are sent to the dump, Carola Baer’s sole album - originally a demo tape for prospective collaboration - came this • close to escaping everyone’s attention, but now takes pride of place as the first Concentric Circles release.
Written circa 1990 on a Yamaha DX7, a Casio CZ-101, and a basic drum machinee while UK-based Carola was passing thru San Francisco on her way to Australia, ‘The Story of Valerie’ is a transfixingly intimate and melancholic affair whose heightened emotive atmosphere was the result of meeting new spirits and foreign partnerships that turned into relationships.
Its 11 songs are hauntingly frank and confessional, delivered in a style unmistakably indebted to early 4AD, but not beholden to it, as Carola is just as likely to err into edge of new age ambient-pop themes perhaps equally comparable with a lo-fi Enya, whilst also interspersed with much more wayward expressions of stressed distortion and even some wild rhythmic experimentation.
Of course, the discovery of ‘The Story of Valerie’ probably isn’t going to change the world, but it is most humbling to know that this kind of brilliance continues to resurface from blind spots everywhere. In the most classic sense of great art, it sometimes takes time to find your audience. In this case 28 years.
Reissue of the killer debut solo EP by Anthony Shakir a.k.a. Shake, a foremost architect of OG Detroit house and techno
Produced in 1993 and out of print since 1996 (although we do remember a warehouse find turning up c. 2005), ‘5% Solution’ is one of the greatest examples of Detroit house at it’s futuristic, avant, and singular best.
The A-side throws down the title cut’s devilish breakbeat edits and speaker-worrying subbass growl in a freaky style that would become Shake’s calling card, while ‘Mindless Entertainment’ takes that subbass to shockingly heavy levels in the mix while the drums are chopped with a sleight of hand that’s got so much to answer for over the years. On the flip, the stop-start warehouse classic ‘Day Of Reckoning’ and the bleeping badboy ‘My Name Is Binky’ recalls to us many classic DJ Miles sets, and a time when Detroit house was hugely inventive.
A gaggle of experimentalists including UK’s Ian Helliwell rework (or Retime) Howlround’s soundtrack to Steven McInerney’s film, A Creak in Time’ for Psyché Tropes
Howlround’s patented spectral systems music provides rich, ghostly source material for the various tape manipulators, ranging from a weathered swell of ferric drizzle and guttural basses by award-winning composer Tom White, thru the warped convolutions of Merkaba Macabre, a fizzing bout of abstraction by Dan Hayhurst, and, most notably, a fractured collage by Brighton-based multimedia artist Ian Helliwell, who made the ‘Practical Electronica’ documentary about FC Judd and early British tape recording.
Howlround himself also supplies two new reworks of his own piece, one cochlea-chewing alien grub thing, and a curdled drone work recalling Leyland Kirby’s work as The Stranger.
Séance Center survey the ghostly soundtrack work of Storm Bugs’ Philip Sanderson in the ‘80s, after leaving the cult industrial group to pursue solo interests...
“By 1981, after four years of DIY electronics, it was time for a change. For Philip Sanderson that change came in the form of film. At first, requests came from friends for soundtrack work, and by the end of the decade he was making short experimental 8mm films himself. On One of These Bends is a collection of unreleased songs, soundtrack work and obscure cassette-only pieces from the 80’s which reflect Philip’s shift in focus. It was a departure from the industrial music he had been making with his group Storm Bugs, having more in common with Nino Rota and Henry Mancini, albeit as seen through a DIY lens, and with a reel-to-reel orchestra comprised of an EMS VCS3, vibraphone, DX7, Roland SH-101, Roland TR-606, tape delay, acoustic guitar, fretless bass and Yamaha FB-01
On two numbers, Philip jokingly asked an American chanteuse to “sing it like a cross between
Streisand and The Shangri-Las”, and to his surprise she did, the results sounding like a loungey AC Marias, or a lost early Crépuscule recording by Anna Domino. Counterpointing this are tracks such as E For Echo made with just an acoustic guitar, and the very first piece Bright Waves which combines the choral vocal talents of Nancy Slessenger with a Revox tape delay system, originally released on his own label Snatch Tapes, under the pseudonymous duo Claire Thomas & Susan Vezey.
These tracks are presented with the ‘picture turned down’ so to speak, and as such the music acts as a kind of memento mori for the absent moving images, and maybe even for the decade itself.”
Rude, swaggering dubstep infiltrated by US hip hop flavours
Leading on from his ‘Dyrge’ for Black Acre, Commodo bowls back to the bosom of Mala’s Deep Medi with sparking drums and offset subs synched to a crystallized sorta Reichian riff in ‘Rikers’, but the B-side leans heavier toward deep south styles, placing a canny UK style spin on woozy trap and Memphis pressure systems.
CV & JAB is Christina Vantzou and John Also Bennett, two artists that might already be familiar to many of you from their individual work over the years for the Kranky and Spectrum Spools labels. Together they have made this slowly engrossing album for Shelter Press - who else - perhaps one of the most elusive, uncanny and multi-layered “Ambient” albums we’ve heard in what feels like a long time, a worthy follow-up to a frankly astonishing sequence of releases on the label that started with Felicia Atkinson’s modern classic 'Hand In Hand'. If you’re into anything from Chris Watson’s field recordings to Vangelis and Badalamenti at their most romantic and evocative, or even Boards of Canada’s early forays into wildlife documentary pastiche, this one will sooth your mind like nothing else.
The album is a musical interpretation of Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface, a 90m panoramic wall drawing by Zin Taylor (a reproduction of which is included as a fold-out poster that comes with the vinyl edition). Through 10 tracks they render beautiful electro-acoustic meditations on the passage of time, which follows-on from their co-work on Vantzou's No. 3 album.
Vantzou brings a wealth of experience working between auditory and visual mediums to John Also Bennett’s synthesized and acoustic sound sensitivities, which have recently applied to his action in the Forma trio and a compilation of Pauline Anna Strom’s amazing Trans-Millenia Music for RVNG Intl, with a purposefully slow and immersive flow of acoustic piano and flute wrapped up in remarkably plasmic, spatially detailed synth contours.
In 10 parts, through a combination of literal track titles and abstracted allegorical inference, they describe the movement and feelings evinced by Zin Taylor’s massive tableaux, variously transposing his imagery of Cactus with Vent into webs of crystalline harmonics that acquiesce to brownian motion, or, as with the transition of Alfred Hitchcock Haze to Rock House With Door, a vividly synaesthetic transcription of figurative drawing to brooding, doomily Lynchian sound that brings to mind a wealth of captivatingly dank and alien imagery.
The vinyl package includes a miniaturised print of Zin Taylor’s Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface to peruse while you listen, so that you, like Christina and Bennett, can also make your own interpretation, and see how far their sonic translation differs with your own. Or then again, you could ignore it entirely and let yourself drift inside their free-formed dimensions without the cues. Either way, you’re in for a beautiful, open-ended and unpredictable trip.
‘Sonder Somatic’ is the debut Bruce album for Hessle Audio. If Monolake came thru in the UK during the post-dubstep phase, his music may have sounded a bit like this one.
“Bruce – AKA Larry McCarthy – is set to release his debut album Sonder Somatic this October on UK imprint Hessle Audio. The album packs 11 singular UK club tracks that evoke a distinctly emotive and dense energy, channelling detailed sound designs, tangled textures and club anthems for 2018 and beyond.
The record is deeply varied in styles, ideas and tempos; from the tight rhythmic groove of album opener 'Elo' to the weaponised onslaught of ominous club cuts 'What' and 'Cacao' - through drifting, meditative techno and the skeletal sound design of 'Ore' and 'Baychimo.' Each track shifts the tonal mood in subtle and distinct ways, whilst retaining a consistent icy sound palette infused with colour and human warmth.
The shapeshifting Hessle Audio imprint is run by Pearson Sound, Ben UFO and Pangaea. For over ten years, through their combined tastes they have continued to unravel and explore the edges of sounds and ideas from the wider dance music scene, across the boundaries of the functional and the experimental, with consistently innovative results. As a long time follower of the label, Bruce wanted to craft an album that continues their singular attitude and approach; incorporating vibes from UK soundsystem music as well as music from his home town of Bristol.
"From being a fan of their work from the very beginning, it's not only the music they have released that has informed my taste/work, but also the journey they have formed through the application of their attitude and approach." - Bruce
Much of Sonder Somatic was shaped by Bruce's own understanding of club culture as a whole, and predominantly his personal relationship with it both professionally and recreationally. The album was partly written as an attempt to capture that rare transformative feeling that can cause you to fully lose yourself in a club space, disconnecting from your immediate environment for a short time.
Sonder Somatic follows EPs for Timedance, Livity Sound, Idle Hands and Hemlock, and comes 4 years after his debut EP 'Not Stochastic' for Hessle Audio. The album pushes the boundaries of what club music can be whilst expertly refining his work as both a club producer and an experimental sound designer. With a unique sense of flair that sets him apart, Sonder Somatic is set to raise Bruce's profile across all corners of the dance world.”
Back in March, prolific cellist and composer Lucy Railton released her long awaited solo debut for Modern Love; an intense and multi-layered opus that reminded us of everything from Alvin Lucier, Beatrice Dillon and Nate Young, to Valerio Tricoli and Popol Vuh.
A prolific performer who has appeared on countless recordings and collaborations with many important figures in contemporary music over the last few years, Paradise 94 is, remarkably, Railton's solo debut - featuring archival, location and studio recordings which serve as a time capsule of all the myriad disciplines and influences that have brought her to this point in time. It both plays up to and shatters expectations of her music, which harnesses a duality of energies - acoustic/electronic, real/imagined, iconic/iconoclastic, pissed-off/romantic; out of place and androgynous - resulting in a visceral emotional insight and rare narrative grasp.
Variegated, asymmetric, and located somewhere between her usual fields of exploration, Paradise 94 gives free reign to aspects of her creativity that have previously been subsumed into collaborative processes and interpretations of other composers’ work. Here, she’s free to probe, sculpt and layer her sounds through a much broader range of techniques and strategies, placing particular focus on non-linear structural arrangements and exploring the way her cello becomes perceptibly synthetic through collaging, rather than FX. At every turn Paradise 94 is bewilderingly unique.
The A-side unfolds an oneiric, inception-like sequence traversing temporalities, timbres and tones from what sounds like a spectral ensemble playing on a traffic island in Pinnevik, to bursts of rabbit-in-headlights trance arps emerging from meticulously dissected musique concrète in The Critical Rush, and a collision of masked vocals, string eruptions and a deeply moving, light-headed Bach rendition in For J.R.
On the other hand, Fortified Up on side B tests out a far rawer approach, sampling herself playing the same glissandi over and again, which she layers into a sort of perpetual, sickly motion, the Shepard Tone riffing on the listener’s psychoacoustic perceptions before calving off into a cathartic dissonant folk coda in its final throes.
In the most classic sense, you can only properly begin to f*ck with something from the inside once you truly know it. Railton’s dedicated years of service have more than equipped her with the nous and skill to do just that, gifting us with what will no doubt be looked back on as a raw, exposed and important solo debut in years to come.
Additional Note: The album features Beatrice Dillon on acetone drums on 'To The End', Gard Nilssen on cymbals and glass samples recorded and provided by Nicolas Becker on ‘The Critical Rush’. Organ extract on 'For J.R.' (Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott) is composed by J.S. Bach and performed by Kit Downes, drain pipe is performed by Koichi Makigami.
Fallen Trees’ – the new album by Lubomyr Melnyk – known as ‘the prophet of the piano’ due to his lifelong devotion to his instrument.
"The album release coincides with Melnyk’s 70th birthday, but despite the autumnal hint in its title, there’s little suggestion of him slowing down. Having received critical acclaim and coheadlining the prestigious Royal Festival Hall as part of the Erased Tapes 10th anniversary celebrations, after many years his audience is now both global and growing. The composer is finally gaining a momentum in his career that matches the vibrant, highly active energy of his playing.
Cascades of notes, canyons and rivers of sound: there’s something about his music that channels the natural world at its most awe-inspiring. In ‘Fallen Trees’ the connection with the environment continues, taking its cue from a long rail journey Melnyk made through Europe. Glancing out of the window as the train passed through a dark forest, he was struck by the sight of trees that had recently been felled. “They were glorious,” he says. “Even though they’d been killed, they weren’t dead. There was something sorrowful there, but also hopeful.” That sense of sadness touched by optimism infuses the album, too: rarely has Melnyk made music so shot through with melancholy and regret, but which sounds so rapt, even radiant.
Drawing comparisons with Steve Reich and the post-rock group Godspeed You, Black Emperor!, Pitchfork praised his 2015 album ‘Rivers And Streams’ for it’s “sustained concentration and ecstatic energy”. That energy is present in ‘Fallen Trees’ too, but at points the tone is quieter, the mood darker and more wistful. At points elsewhere on the album, despite being rooted in the wonders of the natural world, there’s a kaleidoscopic quality in the fractal flurry of notes and the broad spectrum of colour they summon.
Critics have detected the influence of Ravi Shankar and other Indian styles in Melnyk’s music, along with the insistent, repetitive textures of minimalist pioneers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Melnyk himself cites his debt to the American composer Terry Riley, particularly the legendary 1964 work ‘In C’, which he says “opened the world for me”. But he adds that if you listen carefully, you’ll also be able to hear the lilting contours of traditional Ukrainian folk music."
The first Grouper album in 4 years finds Liz Harris stripped of FX, pairing her vocals with skeletal piano gestures in beautifully pregnant space. For anyone familiar with the miasmic fuzz of Grouper’s previous releases, the relative clarity is quietly shocking in effect, revealing her songs and sound at their most vulnerable, and, in the process, locating a newfound strength in fragility.
Grid Of Points was recorded in Wyoming shortly after Liz finished recording Grouper’s Ruins out in Aljezur, Portugal, and on the most immediate level it seems to describe the difference in recording locations between windswept Atlantic coastline and sparse, landlocked insularity. The seven songs were written over a week and a half, with the process curtailed by a bout of what she describes as “high fever”. What remains forms some of Grouper’s most legible lyrics and intimate instrumentation, with each piece framed by stark, unprocessed space working in the same role usually occupied by her billowing sheets of harmonic distortion.
Untreated and unfiltered, Grouper's voice rings plaintively clear, sometimes layered in ephemeral harmonies or curling off with jazz-soul wise inflections shadowed by modest piano phrasing in a crepuscular style that links back to all her previous work. Yet, in places the clarity is such that it almost feels like we the listeners have just been hearing her songs with clogged ears for the past decade and longer.
Ultimately, these results perhaps most acutely resonate with the etymology of Liz’s moniker - ‘Grouper’ as in member of a Fourth Way commune, The Group, which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff, whose mystic meditations surely linger in the magick of Grid Of Points.
Chromatic conjurer Tim Hecker meets traditional Japanese Gagaku musicians from the Tokyo Gakuso ensemble on ‘Konoyo’, a dreamlike dramaturgy of noise, dissonance and aching melody recorded during several trips to Japan
The Canadian’s 9th solo release ‘Konoyo’, like its predecessor, ‘Love Streams’  also finds Hecker drawn to acoustic instruments and collaboration with a larger ensemble or collective, this time working with the Tokyo Gakuso ensemble after commanding an Icelandic choir on his previous album. However, the results here have a different purpose, swapping out ecstatic density for an intently refined and spacious approach, allowing his processed sources to ring out beautifully un/true in a sort of parallel dimensional harmonic spectrum.
In ‘Konoyo’ Tim Hecker effectively establishes a whole new set and lighting design to stage his patented play of paradoxes - lone/collective; organic/synthesised; consonant/dissonant - with the synaesthetically heightened skill of director, set designer and conductor rolled into one. The results are thus among his most subtly yet richly theatrical or cinematic, riddled with romantic, if abstract, narrative and a yearning pathos, and effectively collapsing myriad traditions - electronic, acoustic, Western, Eastern, classical and new age - into a spellbindingly sonorous, mercurial triumph.
One of Convextion’s most in-demand classics, ‘Crawling & Hungry’ is finally repressed along with his ace ‘Venus In Spurs’
A total inverted-anthem in our Pelicanneck shop back at the start of this century, Convextion’s ‘Venus In Spurs’ 12” remains a high water mark of dub techno to this day. While in any normal circumstances the A-side would be hailed a total pearl, it’s really all about the B-side’s ‘Crawling And Hungry’, one of Gerard Hanson’s very deepest emotional punishers, stretched out for 11 minutes of Basic Channel-style dub chord meditation with the additional glow of Detroit techno proper and Area54 ambience.
Ask almost anyone who knows or owns this cut, they’ll probably put it in their all-time top 10. Goes for us at least.
Welcome reissue of Romania’s 1st fully electronic music recording - a fascinating and intrepid example of Spectral Music made at the IPEM Studio in Ghent, Belgium. Big RIYL Horatiu Radelescu, Iancu Dumitrescu, Roland Kayn, Basil Kirchin
Notable not only as the first properly electronic record released in Romania (in 1984), the hallucinatory scapes of ‘Gradeatia • Natural’ also formed the solo debut by Octavian Nemescu, who, along with Horatiu Radelescu and Nemescu’s collaborator, Cornel Cezar, shaped the distinctive, astronomic dimension of the Spectral Music style - one of Romania’s greatest contributions to the wider 20th century electronic music canon.
The LP’s A-side, ‘Gradeatia’ was recorded in 1983 at the esteemed IPEM Studio in Ghent, Belgium. For practically any European artist, access to this studio would have been a big deal, but it was an even more serious opportunity for Nemescu, whose access to equipment was severely limited in Communist controlled Romania. Working with his partner/sound engineer, Erica Nemescu - a skilled engineer who had worked on sound for animations - Octavian created a remarkably sensuous and immersive work full of modernist wonder, coursing form lush EMS Synthi 100 strokes to chaotic pulses, cinematic synth passages and a mind-bending finale. It’s patently the sound of someone dreaming of escape routes into different temporalities and dimensions, and is presented here in its entirety for the 1st time, following an unauthorised, truncated version pressed up by Electrecord in 1984.
Nemescu’s B-side work ‘Natural’ was, however, recorded at home in Romania. Using prerecorded samples of the Romanian countryside and electronic sources, Nemescu cut them up on his Grundig reel-to-reel decks to create a uniquely captivating mesh of warbling voice and keening, sonorous electro-acoustic megastructures which, again, connoted a sense of longing escape from earthly binds, while acknowledging its escapable gravity.
A rare vinyl edition of three works by Luigi Nono - a pivotal figure of the Italian avant-garde - all composed and recorded in the mid ‘80s.
A lesson in fine-tuning acoustic perceptions, meant for focussed reception in keeping with Nono’s concept of “new listenings”: "This no longer means revolutionizing the entire linguistic system ie. a subversive attack on the institution of music; rather it means progressively expanding the technical possibilities of sound produced by traditional instruments and the perceptive faculties of the listener."
It includes the highly pensive and masterful use of space and silence in A Carlo Scarpa for large orchestra, plus the death sigh electronics, contrabass flute and contrabass clarinet apparitions of A Pierre, and perhaps most enticingly, a stunning 30-minute B-side piece called Guai Ai Gelidi Mostri and inhabited by “electronically treated winds”, scything strings and utterly haunting vocal swells.
As with most everything on Edition RZ, it’s a crucial dispatch from the brink.
Black Merlin gnashes at the ‘floor agin for Berceuse Heroique after sunning his ass in Indonesia
Tacking back to the dance via weirder outposts, the British artist stretches out between signature, oily EBM, hypnotic ambience and viscous modular roil on the ‘Void’ EP.
The first plate is smeared with the pendulous triplet rhythms and intoxicating reverb dynamics of ‘Void’, and the proper darkroom impulse of ‘Machine’, while the 2nd plate delivers the cranky industrial slug of ‘R24’ before dieting sidelong into the ritualistic modular synth styles, art best in the star-eyed kiss-off ‘Mod’.
Deep and rugged Detroit-style dub techno and electro from Japan’s Stereociti in Waveguide mode for Mojuba
Named after his personal imprint, Waveguide signifies a switch to tuffer styles for Ken Sumitani, taking in raggedly filtered dub chords and heaving subs in ‘Quod’, and a filigree weave of entrancing Detroit arps in ‘Cubic Roots’, whereas the the other two are proper electro missiles, skidding like a classic Ultradyne or E.R.P. in Tightrope’, and with hi-tech funk suspension on the rapid-fire ‘Lemma’.
Expert digger/editor Mori Ra on the chop again for BH, grooving between sweet folk dance, screwed boogie, gamelan driven disco-house and elegant jakbeat...
This volume of ‘The Brasseries Heroique Edits’ follows a wavy line from harp-led blends of folk chant and boogie to a killer, Thriller-esque downstroke on the front, before pushing the tempo with the lissom moire-ra of gamelan rhythms, seraphic synth voices and grooving 4/4, and a sublime house percolator.
Nimbly rugged dub techno steppers from Italy’s Roberto Clementi on Echocord’s Echo Echo series
Check for two strong, post-dubstep-techno hybrids in the lurching step of ‘Con Te’ up top, and the grubbing shuffle of ‘Cadmio’ down under.
Unique, engrossing room recordings of Kaliff pipe organ dirges played by composer, sound technician and multi-instrumentalist Kali Malone, released earlier on in the year on a super limited tape run and now finally pressed up on vinyl for wider public consumption. Very little we’ve heard in 2018 has affected us as much as this elusive, magical record.
In four pieces recorded at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, it’s the characteristics of the room itself that add a crucial dimension to these pieces, sounding worlds away from the cavernous reverb associated with church acoustics. Instead, these dry recordings bring out all the fragile warmth and intimacy that’s rarely associated with this multi-faceted, sacred instrument. Removed from its traditional, godly environment - the effect is startling.
The magick also lies in Kali's capacity to produce rich, swirling, gaseous overtones. There’s a preternatural sensitivity toward these peripheral sounds, coaxing intoxicating spectrums of quivering hi-register fluctuations and sonorous bass at a pace that draws the listener in and seems to reduce everything around to a meditative serenity.
Organ Dirges stands in a line of records borne out of serendipity rather than any planned, grandiose gesture. Recorded more or less off the cuff over just a few days onto a portable zoom, it’s a testament to Kali’s compositional instinct that these 4 pieces sound so resolved and purposeful. Every small detail sounds intentional without being controlled, right down to the almost unbearably moving disintegration at the very end of closing piece 'Fifth Worship’, like a slow descent into darkness.
It’s interesting to note that Organ Dirges was first played at a huge iron mine, the acoustics once again altering the perception of these alchemical pieces. Indeed, we can attest to the contrasting experience we’ve had playing this record in different spaces - on headphones, quietly at night in small rooms, loud on monitors in large spaces - always revealing something new, always transporting us somewhere else.
An incredible, uncanny record.
Even by Príncipe’s ridiculously high standards, this is jaw-droppingly good, fierce but soulful hybrids of kuduro with R&B, trance-techno, drill and jump-up jungle, in our view some of the most thrilling music made by anyone in the world right now...
Príncipe kick off 2018 in a big way with the remarkable début by P. (as in ‘Producer’) Adrix; a 22 year old artist originally from Lisbon, now based in Manchester, who is equally adept at crafting full tilt, teched-out bangers as effervescent electronic soul music. His first release, Álbum Desconhecido is a supreme example of the innovative scenius in Angolan-Portuguese music, ratcheting the thrilling dynamics of Lisbon’s ghetto bass sound with deadly edits and pressure highly compatible with the UK’s jump-up jungle, drill or soca grime vibes.
Building on ground-breaking work forwarded by producer/DJs Marfox, Nervoso, Nídia and Lycox in recent years, Álbum Desconhecido is jaw-droppingly fresh, delivered in 9 short sharp stings between the seasick drill of Zelda Shyt and the laser-guided trance lixx of Viva La Raça, trading in a mix of virulent, adrenalised energy and soulful rollige that sets fire to any ‘floor.
It’s clear and present in the turbulent, rug-pulling subs and febrile polyrhythms of Bola De Cristal, and to blinding degrees in the high-wire tension and bone-freezing edits of 6.6.6, whereas the zipping flutes of Ovni bind roots and future with breathtaking, needlepoint incision, leaving Sonhos to provide a dead sweet, even romantic contrast with the melancholic meditation of Tejo for fine measure.
It's a boldly expressive and immediately effective sound that drives listeners to a rare but timeless sort of rave ecstasy - thrillingly synthetic and infused with an unmistakeable lust for the dance. In the right hands, it’s dangerous stuff.
You’ve been warned!
Tunisia’s Deena Abdelwahed inhabits a fascinating space between tradition and technology, history and futurism in her strikingly moody debut solo album ‘Khonnar’, following from production credits on Fever Ray’s ’Plunge’ and use of her tracks in mixes by M.E.S.H. and Paula Temple. Subbass fiends need to check the final track ‘Rabbouni’, while fans of Jasss and Muslimgauze will gets strong kicks throughout...
“Deena Abdelwahed’s first album is shifting the epicenter of contemporary electronic music south. Pronounced “Ronnar“ (an essential detail so as to avoid facile misinterpretation by French- speakers) it is a term that makes the most of Tunisia’s cultural and linguistic spectrum. It evokes the dark, shameful and disturbing side of things, the one we usually seek to hide, but which Deena instead sticks our noses in with her debut. It is a testament to Deena’s coming into her own as a world citizen, and as an artist. A self-construction made of frustrations and constraints, borne of retrograde mindsets, which are not the prerogative of either the East or the West, and which she tirelessly strives to expose and break.
Throughout the 45 minutes of “Khonnar“, Deena breaks down the codes of bass, techno and experimental music, and writes the manifesto for a generation that does not seek to please or to conform, taking back control of its identity – with all the attendant losses and chaos. A new creative world order is taking shape, a new tilting point between north and south, the response of a connected and liberated youth who takes the control of the new decolonization.”
After turns by Burnt Friedman and Max Loderbauer, Marionette return attention to Benjamin Kilchhofer’s lilting drum patterns and bittersweet electronics on The Book Room, his broadest and most significant release to date. Followers of Burnt Friedman’s rhythmelodic arrangements, the ersatz ethno vibes of Don’t DJ or Shackleton’s hypnotic patterning will find lots to delve into here.
“Benjamin Kilchhofer is not new to the world of recorded music, yet he doesn’t seem to fit into a particular scene or group. As an outsider he is, however, fully immersed and melded into his own universe. He mentally escapes to a parallel world and weaves an alternate reality which would otherwise not exist in his daily life. Kilchhofer avoids the spotlight and therefore isn’t really visible in today’s culture of ever changing content and social media. This is where Marionette steps in to attempt to shed as much light as possible on this unique and incredibly talented artist.
The Book Room is Kilchhofer's musical diary, it's his library of emotions. It's a fairytale, an imaginary place shaped by exotic cultures, an escape from modern society, a collage of real and imagined experiences. You can hear influences abstracted from a wide number of musical approaches: the story-telling nature of folklore music, naive and conflicting rhythms of tribal drums, melodies and pads reminiscent of classical minimalism and microtonal experimental music, the freeform approach of early electronic music and krautrock, and buried deep within the tracks some hints of hedonistic dance and club music.”
Brian Eno’s pioneering ambient cornerstone is available on vinyl for the first time in over 30 years!‘Discreet Music’ (available as a single LP or half-speed mastered 2LP), is here available on this facsimile reproduction affording a whole new generation the chance to bathe in some of Eno's most pivotal and important work.
Context is always key with historic releases, and could hardly be more so than with ‘Discreet Music’. Famously, Eno was hospitalised following a car accident in 1975, and while laid up, his friend Judy Nylon brought him a record player and an LP of harp music. The music only came out of one speaker, and at low volume, and the incapacitated Eno struggled to do anything about it, so he accepted this as a new mode of hearing music as embedded in the ambience of the environment. While Eno had previously arrived at similar conclusions with Robert Fripp on ‘No Pussyfooting’, here the idea ironically became more firm, yet diffused in the classic style he would develop on ‘Ambient 1: Music For Airports’ and over his next 40 years of recordings.
The two pieces on ‘Discreet Music’ beautifully play with this idea of a background music. To make the title piece, Eno established a near autonomous system of synth and tape loop feedback which rendered his simple melodic motifs, input via synthesiser, as 30 minutes of calmingly serene wilt and decay whose simple, plaintive elegance patently endures now, over 40 years later. The other piece finds Eno’s ideas applied directly to classical music with a much slowed-down take on ‘Three Variations on the Canon in D Major by Johann Pachelbel’ performed by The Cockpit Ensemble, conducted by Gavin Bryars.
Techno’s arch, dark alchemist Juan Mendez rolls out a powerful 2nd Silent Servant album with ‘Shadows of Death and Desire’ , arriving some six years after his ‘Negative Fascination’ side triggered a sea-change toward EBM and gothic sonics in a way that’s never been felt more strongly. The album also features the unlikely reappearance of longtime collaborator and vocalist Camella Lobo of Tropic of Cancer.
Over the past two decades the storied, L.A.-based producer has made his presence felt both by stealth and frequency. From his earliest work on LA’s Cytrax thru his pivotal role on early Tropic of Cancer releases and as recording and visual artist with Sandwell District, then later as the go-to-guy for fusions of post-punk, industrial, EBM and techno with DJ sets and releases as Silent Servant, Juan Mendez’s myriad efforts have inarguably exerted an enormous influence over contemporary techno and dark electronics.
With his sophomore album Silent Servant presents an affirmation of his prowess with properly physical effect, wielding some of the most strapping arps, possessed vox and moody pads in his catalogue. In contrast with ‘Negative Fascination’, its influential predecessor, the seven tracks of ‘Shadows of Death and Desire’ are defined by a toothier drive and bite, moving with shark-like momentum thru ruggedest club functions while allowing little room for anything like beat-less reflection or downtime.
Locking in with ‘Illusion’, he pursues singular, writhing permutations of EBM, industrial and post punk moods; taking in slathering highlights with the agitated bruxism of ‘Harm In Hand’ and the rotor-jawed syncopation of ‘Damage’, along with the trampling drone-dirge of ‘Loss Response’, and the needling panic attack dynamic of ’24 Hours’, before drifting off centre with the glorious, swingeing torque of ‘Glass Veil’, and a swooning goth finale in ‘Optimistic Decay’ which sees mendez reunite with longtime collaborator and vocalist Camella Lobo.
Exquisitely rendered in-the-mix by Joshua Eustis, we can practically guarantee that if you fell for the first album, this one will push your buttons hard, too.
Gorgeous and essential archive material from master of ‘The Tokyo Sound’ and environmental music pioneer, Hiroshi Yoshimura, the latest unearthing on Chee Shimizu's 17853 - previously only available on a very limited Japanese cassette back early 80s.
Conceived for the eponymous exhibition of new wave, international fashion held by the Seibu department store at the Suzue corporation’s loft on Takeshita Pier, Tokyo on 18th September, 1983, the perfectly mannered 7-song instrumental suite of Pier & Loft was subsequently issued on cassette thru Fukusei Gijutsu Kohboh later that year.
The record sweetly captures a debonaire, technologically-enhanced style that we’d perceive as specific to the Japanese capital in early ‘80s: an economical and precise synthetic sound, with brightly cute motifs rendered to the rafters in soft reverbs and layered with an elegant simplicity that masks the measured intricacy of construction.
And while the insert notes ask us allow for some slight background noise and distortion form the original master tapes, it’s barely perceptible, and probably would have gone unnoticed if, like the music itself, it weren’t so fastidious in its precision and construction.
Six of the seven tracks are feather light and beatless, ranging from heart-melting romantic themes such as Horizon I’ve Ever Seen Before to the moon beam of Tokyo Bay Area - which are both long enough to let you really float away - whereas Wavy Patterned Icecream gives it a deft dab of beatless synth funk that melts into air, and Kamome Dayori continues that rhythmic theme on the downstroke into the album’s sole appearance of drum machines in the gently swinging budge of The Sea In My Palm, which warmly recalls something from Alain Pierre’s Jan Zonder Vrees soundtrack.
Vessel returns to Tri Angle with ‘Queen Of Golden Dogs’, offering a crazed leap from ‘Punish, Honey’  into wild fusions of chamber music and outernational rhythms.
Crafted over the course of one and half years while sequestered in rural Wales, ‘Queen Of Golden Dogs’ is a logical, if somewhat hyper, steroid-fed, progression from Vessel’s previous album, his 2016 turn with Immix Ensemble for Erased Tapes, and interim joyrides with Chester Giles in ASDA (the band, not the supermarket).
If one could accuse previous Vessel outings as gothic or darkside, there’s a much finer play of light/dark, texture, pace and space in Vessel’s 3rd album, demonstrating in no uncertain terms an artist in hot, active pursuit of pushing his sound in new directions, and without losing sight of himself.
Riven with heart-bleeding ecstatic noise from nose to tail, the beats are also up-for-it in a way recalling North African dervish traditions or a playfully aggressive, boisterous Shackleton, with strong examples given in the opening clash of dissonant strings and pranging clatter on ‘Fantasma (For Jasmine)’, the restless razz of ‘Glory Glory (For Tippi)’, an escalating trance whirligig named ‘Paplu Love That Moves The Sun’, and the Art Of Noise on crystal meth styles of ‘Argo (For Maggie)’.
On the other hand, his choral arrangements and chamber music proclivities lend an exquisite contrast and relief between those prang outs, ranging from precise vignettes such as the tantalising ‘Good Animal (For Hannah)’, and the sore yelps of ‘Zahir (For Eleanor)’ to the elegant harpsichord aggression of ‘Arcanum (For Christalla)’, and most impressively on the cracked, off key cadence of ‘Torno-me eles a nau-e (For Remedies).