Never before pressed on vinyl, IBM 1401, A User's Manual, is one of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s most loved works. Released in 2006, the decade since its release has seen Jóhann establish himself as one of the most important composers in the World today, most notably scoring movies such as Arrival, Sicario and The Theory of Everything.
:Inspired by the work his father did in the sixties when chief maintenance engineer of one of Iceland’s first computers, Jóhann originally wrote IBM 1401, A User's Manual to accompany a dance piece by long-standing collaborator and friend, Erna Ómarsdóttir. For this album release, he rewrote it for a sixty-piece string orchestra, with a new final movement (built around a poem by Dorothy Parker) and incorporating both electronics, and reel-to-reel recordings made by his father and friends in 1971 of an enormous IBM 1401 mainframe computer singing the hymn Ísland Ögrum Skoriðby Sigvaldi Kaldalóns as it was being decommissioned.
The first ever pressing of IBM 1401, A User's Manual comes in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, having been reworked by Chris Bigg (v23) from his original design. Pressed on clear vinyl, two album tracks recorded in 2010 with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra at the Rudolfinum, Dvorák Hall in Prague have also been added and are exclusive to this release:
End Ground forms the third and final installment in a series of records documenting the solo prowess of Sunn 0)))’s Stephen O’Malley released on Sweden’s iDEAL Recordings. It was performed on electric guitar thru Sunn model T amps, and captured on a zoom H4 at Centre Cultural Suisse, Bad Bonn Carte Blanche, Paris, France, on 18th October 2013.
In solo mode, stripped of his usual accomplices and collaborators, O’Malley is no less than an elemental force. His durational meditations absorb and consume with steady-handed wave after wave of charred, sustained, and sub-harmonised chords casting the mesmerising minimalist practice of La Monte Young into the physicality of Black Sabbath’s original, heavy metal die.
The A-side/first half of this 45 minute performance features O’Malley tentatively coaxing out languorous riffs which turn the air around him to a pensive, vibrating mush. As the 2nd half dawns he begins to deliver more crushing blows, drawing out and subsiding the chords with a patented, gut-wrenching and vivifying power that transcends rock, avant-garde, minimalism - all of that - to awaken dormant senses not usually experienced with other musics or concise temporality.
As with many of the most affective heavy drone recordings by Sunn 0))), among others, a modicum of patience is required in order to attain the right state for reception, but once your mind and body are malleable, the impact is deliciously visceral, primal and whelming.
Colour us blown away, once again.
Meditative, durational works for a 17th century organ, horn, trombone and microtonal tuba written by Ellen Arkbro, who has previously composed for early music ensembles and studied Just Intonation with La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Jung Hee Choi - Huge Recommendation.
“For organ and brass is comprised of two works by the Stockholm-based composer Ellen Arkbro. Both works focus on tuning, intonation and harmonic modulation. In previous projects, Arkbro composed for early music ensembles, wrote a series of durational pieces utilising synthetic tones and processed guitars, and, most recently, presented a work lasting 26 days at the Stockholm Concert Hall. for organ and brass looks back to Arkbro’s studies in Just Intonation with La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, and their disciple Jung Hee Choi in New York, as well as with kindred spirit Marc Sabat in Berlin.
The title composition was written for an organ with a specific kind of historical tuning known as meantone temperament. It was only after locating an appropriate instrument—-the Sherer-Orgel dating back to 1624 in St. Stephen’s Church in Tangermünde, Northeastern Germany—-that Arkbro set about recording both for organ and brass and its counterpart, three. “Hidden within the harmonic framework of the Renaissance organ are intervals and chords that bare a close resemblance to those found in the modalities of traditional blues music,” explains Arkbro. “The work can be thought of as a very slow and reduced blues music.”
The work moves gradually through a series of long, sustained tones played by the organ and in parallel by a brass trio comprised of horn, tuba, and trombone. Arkbro’s treatment of pitch resembles the tuning strategies of La Monte Young. The brass parts were performed by microtonal brass trio Zinc & Copper, a group whose repertoire has included works by C.C. Hennix and Christian Wolff.
In Arkbro’s words, “the brass instruments and the organ fall into patterns of interaction in which a new breathing instrument emerges.” three, which follows the 20-minute title work, deploys the same principles of harmonic relativity. In removing the organ from the instrumentation and switching to a different meter, three acts as an intimate counterpoint to the ritual drone cycles of the title piece.
Ellen Arkbro is currently studying for her Master’s degree in music composition at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. Her work has been performed in Brooklyn, Stockholm, Norberg, Bologna, Gothenburg, Berlin, Birmingham, and Malmö, and on Swedish National Radio.”
Stephen O’Malley deploys the 2nd in a trio of documents of his improvisational prowess following his crushing Fuck Fundamentalist Pigs, which was brought forward in tribute to the Paris attacks and released in late 2015.
The minimalist electric guitar mantra Dread Live was performed at Studio Helmbreker in Haarlem, Netherlands, September 2013, and recorded by Mathijs Ton on a hypercardiod ribbon mic with immaculate 70’s valve amp back line and technical support by the great Tos Nieuwenhuisen. The set was programmed as part of the opening of the Dread - Fear in the age of technological Acceleration exhibition at De Hallen Haarlem, curated by Juha Van’t Zelfde.
It renders 40 minutes of Sunn 0)))’s O’Malley at his most depressive and heavy and is something akin to a slow-motion baptism by waves of tarry, blackened harmonic distortion, holding us under ’til we nearly pass-out from its sinking pressure. Needless to say - it’s insanely good.
How low can you go? O’Malley knows.
London’s ADA drop your RDA ov tweetronic pop with Traffic Island Sound’s All Aboard, starring the naif vocals of P.P. Rebel, backed with one radiophonic vignette and a proper psyche-pop charm.
The lysergic melt of All Aboard comes on like a long-lost ‘60s pop song dreamt by Stereolab’s children after a weekend training trip with a batch of hoffmans. The B-side songs both come from TIS’ debut album Maximal Electronics, where First Steps feels like the woozy aftermath as the same kids stumble upon a synth and attempt to riff on Mike Ratledge’s Riddles Of The Sphinx LP, then arrive at the spiked robotic sing-a-long of Not Coming.
Sweet like that metallic tangggg.
Quite literally the definitive and perhaps most complex of all post-rock albums is given a remastered reissue 23 years since its original release back in 1994. If you’re into Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock / Spirit of Eden and you don’t know this album - welcome to your new obsession.
Back in 1994 Hex sounded like a new kind of music - albeit one guided by foundations laid by Talk Talk on that pair of albums half a decade earlier, as well as by so much of what was going on in the electronic scene at the time - and especially electronic music’s fascination with dub (the Kevin Martin compiled Macro Dub Infection that came out the following year provides a good measure of this intersection, featuring everyone from Coil to Tortoise and 4 Hero). In hindsight it’s easy to join the dots from what was happening in Chicago around the nebulous web of artists revolving around Thrill Jockey and the more esoteric end of UK’s electronic scene, but at the time it really did sound like something completely alien.
Bark Psychosis suffered from the derision with which Post Rock was ultimately treated by the British music media at the time, but Hex has grown in stature over the years, and it has aged beautifully - a perfect marriage of stoned ambition, innovative recording techniques and a refusal to settle on one stylistic trajectory.
It laid foundations for so much of what was to follow over the following decade to the extent that it’s bewildering that it hasn't been given the accolades it so obviously deserves. Perhaps this new, gorgeously remastered edition will put that right.
Ben Frost convulses a new EP of original solo material recorded with Steve Albini. Vast systems - unstable, overloaded, and on the verge of collapse were fed into an array of amplifiers inside a cavernous studio. Behind the glass, Albini committed this to tape, slashing at it intermittently with a razorblade and more than two hours of music was recorded. The Threshold Of Faith EP is the first release of music from those sessions.
Frost fully bares his teeth on five tracks inside, entering with the electrical storm and depth charge detonations of the title track, and hunting down an apocalyptic muse throughout the rest of the EP, from the nerve-gnawing string convolutions of Eurydice’s Heel (Hades) to the chromatic chamber vision of Threshold Of Faith (Your Own Blood), and with shuddering, tempestuous torque in The Beat That Don’t Die In Bingo Town. The finale climax, Mere Anarchy errs a bit to heavy into his cheesy side for us, though.
Integral to the ruptured flow of the album, All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated (Albini Swing Version) catches a quietly dynamic moment from the master engineer, rendering a hyaline cloud of intensely bright and sparse tones that could shatter at any moment, whilst Janus member and Björk remixer Lotic sends the same elements flying in corkscrewing militant drum rolls that sound like Chino Amobi’s wildest dreams.
Keith Hudson, the dub dentist, was a one-off innovator with impeccable, classical lineage: his first studio recording involved former Skatalites; his earliest releases provided solid-gold hits for Ken Boothe's "Old Fashioned Way" as far back as John Holt, Delroy Wilson, U-Roy and the rest.
Like "Lloyd" Bullwackies Barnes, his collaborator here - his split from this tradition is dynamic and all his own: Hudson's mature music finds its optimum conditions away from Jamaica, in London and New York studios and for less didactic transatlantic audiences, while his dark experimentalism becomes increasingly better suited to the the LP and extended 12" than the cardinal 7" reggae format.
Original dark disco mixes from the middle>> latter seventies, drenched in the essences of deepest afro-american-jamaican funk jams. "Playing It Cool & Playing It Right" was released in 1981 on Hudson's own, american based Joint International label. It was originally intended that one of Hudson's teenage sons would voice the dubs: in the event the Love Joys, Wayne Jarrett, and inimitably Hudson himself featured at the microphone.
Like Wackies, Hudson was a Studio One devotee "I used to hold Don Drummond's trombone for him so I can be in the studio", he once recalled ˆ and the album follows Coxsone's recent strategy of overdubbing signature rhythms. While the Studio One sides were aimed at the dancefloor; Hudson's reworks of alltime classic tracks like "Melody Maker", all darkside funkadelic guitars and brooding feeling, are more psychological. Deep Barrett Brothers rhythms are remixed like you've never heard, deeper still with reverb, filters and other distortion, pitched down, everything; and overlaid with new recordings, often heavily treated, of wahwahed guitars, percussion, keyboard, voice. "Playing It Cool.." is legendary, strange, utterly compelling music.
Richard Bishop performing with his rough charm and maximum elegance, along with one of the best avant- guitar players around, the now Brooklyn-based Ava Mendoza.
"Besides her work in Unnatural Ways, she improvises constantly on NY's avant-stages along with Elliott Sharp, Jim Black, William Winant, Paul Flaherty, Tim Dahl amongst others. Rumor has it that she was even in Caroliner. Recorded in full at Ivory Tower (Unrock Headquarters), the Sir opens up stepping deep into music history (as we know it), messing carefully around with the mysterious track the NY-Times was focused on with their recent review.
An electric version of "Safe House", a bone-dry 2015 update on "Abydos", an eruptive outbreak from "Multiple Hallucinations" into "Black Eyed Blue" and a mild & mellow reflection (Ivory Tower). Miss Mendoza is wild at heart and gives you the boot with what she's best at: thunderous eruptive, twisted improvisations and perfect songs. Shadowtrapping."
A towering, shivering totem in the foggy fields of contemporary ambient and drone music, Deathprod’s Morals And Dogma  makes its long awaited first appearance on vinyl as part of a trio beside respective editions of Treetop Drive  and Imaginary Songs From Tristan De Cunha , together presenting the Norwegian demi-god’s complete official canon on wax. It’s simply an essential purchase for anyone who’s ever felt the allure of dark ambient music, but also resonates deeply with followers of early electro-acoustic, concrète, noirish soundtracks and black metal atmospheres alike.
At risk of writing a hagiography for Helge Sten here, it’s impossible to avoid the long shadow his music has cast over our listening lives for the past few decades. Like the work of the late, great Mika Vainio, Sten’s recordings under the Deathprod moniker have practically become an adjective or key allegory on these pages for the most intangible and intoxicating strains of electronic abstraction; a bar from which we measure all other modern dark ambient music.
Originally issued in 2004, but making use of four recordings realised between 1994 and 1997, Morals And Dogma is perhaps the purest example of Deathprod’s texturally diffused minimalism, which is generated by a complex array of homemade electronics, almost obsolete samplers and playback devices and analogue effects usually credited as the ‘Audio Virus’ - arguably a perfect nomenclature for the way his studio set-up allows for and breeds a complex, organically sound sort of ‘cellular composition’.
We can safely say that Morals And Dogma ranks among the ‘purest’ of Sten’s Deathprod recordings,conveying a sense of total tonal detachment and disembodied feelings as ancient as they are infinite, and as evocative of the atmosphere to grainy black and white films as memories of grand, rain-soaked landscapes and the loneliest bedsit mindsets.
However, within this bleak sepia murk it’s possible to detect a human spirit riddling its mazy corridors and vast inky blacknuss, occasionally in the form of occasional collaborators, such as Henrik Magnus Ryan and Ole Henrik Moe’s barely-there violin and harmonium in the quietly funereal case of Dead People’s Things on Morals And Dogma, and with an arcane ecclesiastic air in the faint light of Organ Donor, which appears like a sort of sublime purgatorial state for the spine freezing final reckoning of Cloudchamber - which takes its title from one of Harry Partch’s self-built instruments and pursues that composer’s exploratory impetus deep into echoplex’s unknown dimensions.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of these recordings in light of modern electronic music, but in case you forgot (or lent out the boxset’s CDs to pals years ago, like us), you couldn’t hope for a firmer reminder than these vinyl pressings, as remastered to the exacting specifications of Helge Sten - the producer, engineer, mastering genius behind this, and records by Susanna, Motorpsycho, Jenny Hval, Arve Henriksen and Supersilent, himself.
NYC's foremost tape loop digger is back with a gorgeous album based around his highly-acclaimed show of the same name.
After a run of much-need archival issues based around Basinski’s seminal The Disintegration Loops series, the New Yorker finally delivers some fresh material for Temporary Residence in the shape of A Shadow Of Time. Formed of two extended compositions, the album has origins in the performances of the same name Basinski gave throughout 2016 and finds him exploring themes of fatality through the decaying medium of his trusty reel to reel players.
The title track finds Basinski again working with his unwieldy Voyetra 8 - a synth he last used on his 2001 LP Watermusic - on a composition dedicated to a friend who took their own life. A year in making before debuting at London’s Union Chapel in February last year, the 23-minute A Shadow Of Time recalls the best moments of The Disintegration Loops, as Basinski wrings out a captivating assemblage of plaintive drones and exquisite melodies.
Face down, For David Robert Jones is obviously a eulogy to the Thin White Duke and was originally commissioned for a performance at LA gallery Volume in the weeks following Bowie’s passing. Here Basinski cannily incorporates some ancient tapes loops chewed up by his “roommate’s cat in New York, this big fat motherfxcker,” with elements of Bowie’s work including his saxophone playing from Low closer Subterraneans.
A dead faithful go-to for vintage wave compilations in recent years, Color Tapes’ Cold Waves Of Color Volume 5 extends the cherry-picked selections of minimal and new wave with 11 more aces from the likes of Beserk In A Hayfield, Modern Art (Gary Ramon), Lives of Angels and Silicon Valley, and including a natty rarity by The Good Missionaries, post Alternative TV. All material this time spans 1981-1985 and all makes first appearance on vinyl.
As with previous instalments, Volume 5 impresses with its depth and quality of variety, sequencing crisp electronic dance tracks on the same page as grainy, melodic synth-pop and hard-working dubs in a way that makes total sense as both a historic education as well as a heavily satisfying, play-it-again record.
On the front they add up Void’s punchy, bittersweet minimal wave jabber Isotope beside the soaring, romantic ‘tronics of Silent Sky by Echophase and the supple swang of Beserk In A Hayfield, leading up to some real gems in The Lord’s warped chromatic wormhole Production Line, and especially The Good Missionaries brooding beauty Bending A Border  which is pretty unmissable for fans of PiL or Officer!.
Flip over for more treats in the fluidly Chris Carter-esque electro dynamics of Continental Shift by Echophase, a New Order-y turn from Lives of Angels, and the dubbed-out NRG-disco deviation of Gary Ramon’s own Modern Art ace, Colliding World.
Beatrice Dillon & Call Super toy with the dance in two supple, slinky riddims in a killer collaborative push ’n pull for Hessle Audio.
With both producers really coming into their own over the last few years, Beatrice with an acclaimed run of 12” and LP issues for our 12X12 series, The Trilogy Tapes and Alien Jams, and Call Super for Dekmantel and Houndstooth, these two new collaborations firm up the strongest dance moves in either artist’s catalogue.
Inkjet is a proper UK-meets-Berlin gem lodged somewhere in the system between T++’s dynamic steppers and the kind of grubbing grooves explored by Batu and the Timedance lot, persistently mutating with a darkside dancehall-techno science that recalls a synaesthetic analog of PKDick’s scramble suits.
In sweet contrast, Fluo works with a more tempered sort of deep garage swing, dialling in hovering jazz chords on the nimble first half before unexpectedly switching into a rolling tribal house groove with cascading bleeps and lovely resolution.
Iona Fortune’s Tao Of I came out a few weeks ago and was available in such limited supply that we had the vinyl edition up for sale for about an hour before it sold out. Now that it’s been re-pressed it’d be totally remiss of us not to bring it to the attention of anyone who missed out; it really is one of the year’s most striking debut albums.
Inspired by Eastern Philosophy and slated to be the first in an 8 album series exploring all the symbols of the I Ching, Fortune's music is described by the label as loosely fitting in with Fourth World concepts imagined by Jon Hassell, and indeed she meshes traditional guzheng and gamelan with lustrous tones from a Synthi AKS that provides an incredible sub-bass throb that runs through the record.
However, Fortune’s is an exercise in deep contemplation that isn’t afraid of baring it’s teeth. As opposed to so many Ambient albums riding revivalist waves right now, she seems aware of a basic truth that sound rarely works in one dimension. She aligns tradition and technology in a way that seems expansive and new, almost revolutionary; instead of creating soothing background sounds she makes use of grit and abrasion.
This makes Tao Of I a singular record, measured with a poise and patience that’s utterly arresting in its stoic elegance and sound sensitivity, drawing on a history of arcane, intramural Scots energies and channelling a mystic, ambiguous instrumental voice. It's completely enchanted, enchanting music.
Trevor Jackson reveals hitherto unheard ambient aspects of his hip hop/breakbeat alias The Underdog with Y.O.U, his “lost” album as FROM, produced over 1994-1997 and initially intended for release between his production for UK hip hop crew The Brotherhood’s Elementalz  LP, and the debut Playgroup album in 2001.
London’s Another Dark Age relay two forlorn, dust-kickin’ janglers from Canberra’s Mikey Shanahan, written about and recorded in his home town, and practically tailored from the same booze-stained cloth as Nick Cave.
The A-side gauzily evokes a place dislocated from time, crooning like he means it over swirling strums before catch an imaginary ghost train to somewhere more serene on Civic Suicide while his B-side emerges on the other side of The Lake with a raw, needling and plangent missive that erupts into white hot distortion before its left to bake by the roadside.
Jealous God welcome Collin Gorman Weiland to their fetid fold for Issue Nº Twenty-One, a six-track EP of grim, distended industrial slugs in the vein of his 7”s for Downwards and a tape for Downwards North America.
Working hard in the red with earwax-crumbling levels of distortion and sinuous, wiry rhythms, this is some of the grimmest tackle on the label, spitting up crankiest highlights in the bellicose swagger of My Pathetic Words, and the cyberpunk trampler Everyone Wears Chipping Paint, but also saving some more conventional EBM/industrial thrust with the salty jakker She Is Wearing A Red Dress, and the Silent Servant-on-quaaludes pressure of A Section of Touch, and a cannily atmospheric finale featuring Sophia Deutsch on cello in Wondering Windows.
Avant-garde Japanese vocalist Phew follows her sublime Light Sleep for Mesh Key with this album of purely vocal works combining extended vocal technique with Dadaist sound poetry and complex, alien electronic processing.
Voice Hardcore a deeply strange and surreal listening experience, which flits a fine line between real, natural recordings and their warped reflections, gauging a wide space for free expression and, by turns, interpretation, which requires no understanding of the Japanese language in order to grasp its otherworldly beauty.
RIYL Kurt Schwitters, Toru Takemitsu, Joan La Barbara.
Mule Musiq push off a promising new reissue label, Studio Mule, with 13-tracks of Japanese disco, boogie and soul music collected on Midnight In Tokyo. Compiled by Toshiya Kawasaki. Mastered by Kuniyuki Takahashi.
"At mule musiq, we've focused on shining light on the many aspects of what electronic music can be, putting out house, techno and ambient releases on our main label, while releasing alternative-leaning dance music through our endless flight imprint. but with the launch of our new label, studio mule, we are stepping away from electronic club music for a bit. the label will not be tied to a specific genre, as we will instead focus on releasing any kind of music that we feel is a little bit different and interesting, but somehow make sense in this day and age. for our first batch of releases, we will be focusing on japanese music.
To be honest, i have been watching the recent rise of global interest in japanese musicwith a skeptical eye, not sure of how to feel about all these labels overseas licensing great albums that were birthed in our country. but then, i was told by somebody i greatly respect that i should do something similar with mule, and put our own spin on it, which sounded like a good idea to me. after a period of procrastination, i finally got around to doing it. we are starting things off with a compilation of japanese disco, boogie and soul music that we selected from a modern dance music perspective - the kind of songs that we feel would intrigue music fans across the world.
The compilation starts off with the Afro disco classic "Mi Mi Africa" by harmonica player Nobuo Yagi. "Silver Spot" is a jazzy fusion disco track taken from composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist Nobuyuki Shimizu's first album (1980), released when he was 19. The track features singer Epo. "Samba Night" is by vocalist Keisuke Yamamoto and his band Piper, from their masterpiece second album Summer Breeze (1983) -- a delightful city pop number for fans of Tatsuro Yamashita. "Akogareno Sundown" is a Japanese soul classic, sung by singer Haruko Kuwana (sister of Masahiro Kuwana). Produced by Mackey Feary Band, known for the soulful classic "A Million Stars". "Koiwa Saiko (I'm In Love)" is a mellow and groovy track by singer Aru Takamura, the great-grandchild of sculptor Kouun Takamura. It can be thought of as Japan's answer to Cheryl Lynn's "Got To Be Real". "What The Magic Is To Try" is a cult electropop track by Honma Express, a project helmed by producer Kanji Honma. Hailed as Japan's Trevor Horn, he is also known as the producer of legendary techno pop band TPO.
"Colored Music" is a song by Colored Music, a duo of pianist Ichiko Hashimoto and her partner Atsuo Fujimoto. Taken from their sole album (1981), the Japanese rare groove treasure is a mesh of new wave, synth pop, and jazz influences. The dubby electronic new wave disco "Electric City" is a B side of pop idol group Shohjo-Tai & Red Bus St Project's debut 12" single. "Love Is The Competition" is a breezy disco jam by Okinawa-born bilingual artist Hitomi Tohyama, originally featured on her album Next Door (1983). Taken from Mariah project's diva Yumi Murata's first album (1979), "Krishna" is a funky and soulful rockin' disco cut. Reminiscent of Chaka Khan's "I Know You, I Live You", "Live Hard, Live Free" is a song by jazz vocalist Eri Ohno who is known for her work with DJ Krush. "Rocket 88" is a melancholic disco number by singer Minnie originally released through Sapporo's independent label Paradise Records. Closing out the 13-track compilation is Japanese disco staple "Tokyo Melody", sung by Shoody and backed by Tetsuji Hayashi's disco band the Eastern Gang.”
Kiran Sande (Blackest Ever Black) and Chris Farrell (Idle Hands) trigger their Silent Street cooperative with a surefire survey of Maximum Joy’s dub-fuelled punkfunk and pop singles 1981-1982, collected as I Can’t Stand It Here On Quiet Nights. Digging a pivotal point in Bristol’s dub-informed lineage, it reveals the sound of Bristol parties and after-hours blues in the early ‘80s, which would also find success among the punk-funk crowds and hip hop stations of NYC. Fans of Vazz, The Slits, Glaxo Babies, The Pop Group need to check this one!
“I Can’t Stand It Here On Quiet Nights is centred around the trio of singles the band released on Dick O’Dell’s Y Records between 1981-1982. Their first, ‘Stretch’, was licensed to seminal American label 99 Records and soon after became an anthem on the New York club underground, a cult staple at Danceteria and on late-night radio. Closer to home and a shared personal favourite is their first B-side, ‘Silent Street / Silent Dub’: a languid, haunting tribute to long summer nights in St Pauls (where the Idle Hands shop presently resides), and specifically the Black & White Cafe, “where dub-reggae reigned supreme, 24/7”. Llewellin’s mesmerising one-drop kit and Catsis’s outrageously heavy bassline anchor the track, allowing Rainforth’s exquisite vocal and Wrafter’s trumpet to soar within the intense, expressionistic dub mix. In both subject matter and execution it is the definitive Bristol tune.
‘White And Green Place (Extraterrestrial Mix)’, ‘In The Air’, and wistful instrumental ‘Simmer Til Done’ also feature; the non-Y bonus is the 12” version of ‘Do It Today’, Maximum Joy’s contribution to the Fontana compilation Touchdown, which originally came out in ’82 as a white label split with The Higsons.
I Can’t Stand It Here On Quiet Nights is the first official UK vinyl reissue of Maximum Joy material, with sleevenotes by Janine Rainforth, Tony Wrafter and Kevin Pearce. We invite you to acquaint, or reacquaint, yourself with the eclectic, exhilarating work of Bristol’s finest, brightest pop idealists.”
Carla Dal Forno, Sam Karmel and Tarquin Manek return to F Ingers’ noumenal haunted house slightly older, lusher and with a more detached, dub-filtered gaze in Awkwardly Blissing Out, which has to be one of the most evocative album titles we’ve heard all year.
With the damaged, water-logged audness of their Hide debut still lingering like a smell you can’t get out of the curtains, F Ingers’ 2nd grimoir reprises that mildewed nostalgia with a dusky/dawning appeal, capturing the air of hours lost in a pharmaceutical haze or a slow, gradual comedown, metaphorically manifesting residual gurns flickering on twisted lips and from wayward eyelids, clammy fingertips and glowing pores.
Since their debut collaboration, each member of the trio has issued respective solo LPs - Carla with You Know What It’s Like, Karmel in the magnificent CS + Kreme, and Manek with the ace LST and Tarcar outfits - but here they beautifully subsume all individual egos to a common theme that’s testament to their group familiarity and shared status as outsider Melbournians recording both there, and stationed thousands of miles from home in Berlin.
In a sense, listening to Awkwardly Blissing Out is like eavesdropping on the trio’s telepathic comms, intercepting relayed messages about love, like the plasmic bleep lullaby of My Body Next To Yours, or losing yourself in big cities as with the mild dread of Your Confused, and dealing with reminders from home, both positive and negative as in the sun-dazed All Rolled Up and the nerve-bitten post-punk dub jolts of Awkwardly Blissing Out, which all seem to inhabit a more indistinct, smudged place in their collective imagination.
Our imposed ideas aside, though, this is a captivatingly uncertain, ambiguous album that slowly, voyeuristically sums up those glimpses of a parallel world we all escape to at times.
There are too many hype labels around; Wah Wah Wino is one of the good ones.
Their small but perfectly formed catalogue has managed to carve out a very particular niche for the label despite their ideas often sprawling into so many different directions; repeating that trick Arthur Russell employed so brilliantly of always trying something new, always sounding like Arthur.
If you were into Davy Kehoe’s blinding 'Short Passing Game’ EP released on the label last year (in our top 20 releases of the year) or into Morgan Buckley’s by-now-legendary 'Shout Out To All The Weirdos In Rathmines’ 12” (in our top 5 records of 2014, £££ on discogs), you’ll have a good idea of what we’re talking about; working their way through five proper peaches that will satiate your Arthur Russell itch and then some.
By the sounds of it Buckley and Kehoe have their paws all over much of the EP (including Brendan Jenkinson’s super recognisable bass guitar sections on a couple of them), delivering 5 indispensable/shot-from-the-hip heaters based around all sorts of spiky, motorik punk and pop variants to great, highly absorbing effect.
There’s just no arguing with this one, or this label generally - they’re the real deal, buy anything on Wah Wah Wino on sight, f8ck the flippers.
A Strangely Isolated Place cycle back to Christian Kleine’s soft focus early years, circa his CCO charms, with Electronic Music From The Lost World: 1998-2001 - a lovely selection of previously unreleased, gauzy instrumental ambient-pop and frayed, mellow electronica. RIYL BoC, Arovane, Ulrich Schnauss.
"1998, Berlin was a pivotal time for Germany’s Christian Kleine and electronic music as a whole. Growing-up amongst a divided city’s bleak aftermath, alongside hedonistic tendencies that birthed the likes of Loveparade, it was easy to be both inspired and rebellious at the same time. The influences of Detroit techno and rave culture started to travel, and artists were turning to new techniques and machinery, at a time when the bedroom, started to become a studio.
Christian would end up developing a new and unique sound, alongside a small but impactful community that eventually formed a cult artist roster on the City Centre Offices label. His background began in New Wave and Punk, eventually transitioning into DJ’ing in the early 90’s and then, into more electronic productions, with Jungle and drum’n bass his first muse. Christian was on the hunt for something different to what Berlin had to offer at the time, and with his first synth, (Nordlead 1995) and an Atari computer, Christian was creating his first drum’n bass tracks, sending them off to the local radio station, (Kiss FM) where he met future production partner and CCO co co co co co co co co co label head, Thaddeus Herrmann.
Sunday morning studio time alongside Thaddi (as Herrmann & Kleine), jam sessions with Arovane, and coffee with Ulrich Schnauss, continued to inspire and push Christian’s style. This small but influential group of producers would go on to define a melodic, and introspective style of music that now has a cult status amongst IDM, ambient and electronic music fans.
Becoming tired of functional productions, Christian was always interested in finding his own place and language, and continued to experiment further. Taking his inspiration from drum’n bass, and the company of City Centre Offices artists, Christian defined his unique style we know today. Intelligent drum programming met an ethereal and melodic synthesizer style. A delicate and introspective listen, or a hazy layer of bubbling activity and color, Christian’s music defies function and invites you into a world of personal reflection.
This collection of music is Christian's own moment to reflect. Going back to a time he misses; an intense period when producing music was the only thing that mattered. This is music that never saw the light of day; recovered from DAT and pressed on vinyl; A Strangely Isolated Place and Christian Kleine present 'Electronic Music From The Lost World: 1998-2001'."
Osiris have the rare honour of hosting a typically sublime Burial remix on the B-side to Deep Summer, Simon Shreeve (Kryptic Minds) aka Mønic’s melancholic and dusky industrialullaby.
Perfectly measured for the pensive atmosphere of summer 2017 in a Brexiting UK, Mønic’s Deep Summer courses ghostly R&B/folk vocals thru an arid scene of knackered, worn-down drums and keening harmonic pads, barely but stoically keeping its head up against its impending conclusion in a cannily metaphorical narrative arrangement.
Trust Burial, then, to extract and amplify some sense of beauty from the reserved anguish of Deep Summer on the B-side, opening with a filigree collage of seagulls, windchimes and pads recalling the “better days” of ‘90s summers, before lone voices sardonically echoes the sentiments of Nigel Farage (say it like garage) in the recurring phrase ‘we don’t need noone else’ against a rhythmelodic moire of maribas, pealing sax and queasy subbass squirms, perfectly capturing the lucid sleepwalking momentum and frayed socio-cultural fabric of Britain right now in the gauziest, impressionistic terms, replete with an updraft of balearic guitar in the closing stages perhaps predicting our mass exodus to a Ballardian super-city along the mediterranean coast.
Benidorm, you’ve been warned.
Klein debuts on Hyperdub with an intuitively avant blinder, the Tommy EP, dropping a pin at the label’s farthest flung coordinates, somewhere between concrète R&B and soul-wrenching jazz noise. Very safe to say, if you were into Klein’s Only LP, this one’s a peach..
We pick up in Prologue with a candid glimpse of Klein in the studio riffing on Mariah Carey along with her pals - Atiena, Jacob Samuel, ThisisDA, Eric Sings and Pure Water - we’re dropped off 25 minutes later at the glitching jazz chord chops of Farewell Sorry feeling dazed and seriously wondering, wtf just happened?!
To offer some kind of description, the London/LA-based artist takes the cut-up, collaged themes and techniques of Only to beguiling new degrees, flinging the listener thru a maze of idiosyncratic gestures from clouds of diaphanous, operatic vocals in Act One to the tenebrous R&B of Cry Theme and the rainy parade of Tommy, then crushing ‘90s soul and jungle like you’ve never heard in the all-too-short Runs, and even some sorta grungy jungle trample in Everlong, while B2k is possibly best described as kitchen sink hypersoul.
It’s anarchic, unsettling and steeply unique stuff, largely thanks to her distinctive concrète palette - no recognisable plugins or owt here - but also thanks to a balance of daring, knowing, and playful boldness that makes it clear she couldn’t give a f*ck about trends or convention, which is evidently all too rare nowadays.
Mica Levi is without question one of the most interesting producers working today, with numerous strings to her bow she has repeatedly wowed us with everything from skewed rhythmic edits to her chopped & screwed take on classical arrangements, hooky 3-minute pop tracks to squashed Urban mixtapes - always seemingly side-stepping expectations with a singular approach to everything she's put her hand to.
Following her standout, brilliantly unnerving score for Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin a couple of years back, Levi now returns with her second high-profile soundtrack, this time for Pablo Larraín’s Jackie.
There are some pretty amazing interviews with Levi around at the moment (both written, and a couple of totally hilarious Video ones where she makes no concession to what’s expected of her - go find them!), and the tiny insight she gives to the recording process does very little to explain quite how she manages to make a sound so utterly identifiable as her own, regardless of the scale of the production. You’ll find out that she likes to look out of the window when she’s writing, for inspiration, and that despite a classical grounding (at Guildhall) she likes to layer strings in such a way that they attain a kind of school-band quality to them, ever so subtly messing with harmonics in a way that defies tradition.
And that’s the thing with this incredible soundtrack - it sounds rich and beautiful and hugely accomplished, but also ever so slightly off. The use of silence, dissonance, recurring motifs that accelerate and unravel as the soundtrack goes on... is quite something to behold. It’s a hugely confident, self-assured and above all gripping score that is never emotionally heavy-handed, nor does it ever sound like it's trying too hard.
Rather than adapting herself to convention, Levi has re-moulded the genre itself to fit around her acutely non-conformist approach to composition and production and, in the process, has in some way re-set our expectations of what a film score can achieve. She’s done that twice now, on her first two goes at it, which is really quite staggering.
We’ve said this so many times now it almost goes without saying, but there really aren’t many people in contemporary music leaving quite as indelible a mark across so many different genres and sub genres as Mica Levi, in a way that, in our opinion, hasn't really been seen since Arthur Russell or Prince.
PAN imparts its most ambitious and remarkable statement yet with this immersive 3-hour release of Kazuo Imai's avant-garde free improv collective Marginal Consort, recorded at Glasgow's Instal festival in 2008.
It's an impressive feat on so many levels, from the sheer volume of material, to the group's intuitive application of weighty rhetoric and philosophies - eloquently expounded in a 6-page feature in the current issue of The Wire. If we were to reduce it's appeal to any one factor, then its to the potential to collapse almost any listener's sense of time and space, depth and duration when given the attention it deserves.
It makes for a genuinely transcendent and transformative experience: over the course of three hours, divided in eight parts each between 21 - 25 minutes, the set explores forms of sound and ways of playing that never coalesce into 'traditional' music, instead creating a group dynamic of ebb and flow, of exploration and fluidity. Marginal Consort's members: Kazuo Imai (a student of Japanese Free Jazz linchpin Masayuki Takayanagi and also a member of both Taj Mahal Travellers and Takayanagi's New Direction Unit), Tomonao Koshikawa, Kei Shii, Yasushi Ozawa, Chie Mukai and sound-artist Masami Tada (also in GAP) adopt individual positions in the group that are hard to decipher, as opposed to so many other improv units whose preferred mode reflects a method of communication based on a mannered variant of of call-and-response.
Instead, Marginal Consort embrace an overlapping methodology, reflecting the chaos of life mutual to our shared experience, or as Imai himself puts it, "there always remain the fundamental premises that sounds are separately produced phenomena and that their accumulation forms the whole." It should be noted that this release was originally intended as one of PAN's earliest releases; to their huge credit it's taken the label years to put it together. In some respects, it seems right that now, with the benefit of hindsight five years down the line, it arrives to perfectly illustrate the label's broad, often daring parameters.
Praise be to 4AD, who unveil a Jesus arms-worthy new suite of soaring avant and neo-classical reveries by Tim Hecker, on return from unusually long hiatus well spent fine tuning the sound of Love Streams.
“Hecker’s newest opus, Love Streams, takes as its cue from the avant-classical orchestration and extreme electronic processing of his previous full-length, 2013’s Virgins, but shaped into more melancholic, ultraviolet hues. Its power accrues as it unfolds. Inspired by notions of 15th century choral scores transposed to an artificial intelligence-era language of digital resonance and bright synths, the album was assembled gradually, with layers of studio-tracked keyboards, choir and woodwinds being woven into the mix, then molded and disfigured through complex programming. The effect is similar to hearing some ancient strain of sacred music corrupted by encryption. Hecker admits to thinking about ideas like “liturgical aesthetics after Yeezus” and the“transcendental voice in the age of auto-tune” during its creation.”
Among the most stunning and musical electronic works ever produced, these five compositions represent the complete electronic works of Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim (1931-2010).
"Beautifully presented reissue of classic archival electroacoustic works, first released on now very obscure vinyl in 1974. It contains some of the most exciting, shimmering and crystalline electronic sounds to be unearthed in quite a while.
Born in 1931 and highly active, Arne Nordheim is considered by most as the greatest living Norwegian composer, his chamber music, orchestral and various other work spanning a 40 year period. He started to get international recognition in 1960 with his orchestral work ‘Canzona per Orchestra’ and soon after began to explore the use of pre-recorded tape as part of the compositions. His electronic works were recorded in Warszaw between 1967 and 1971, and have strangely enough not been available on record since the 70s.
This releases brings together the collected electronic works of Arne Nordheim, pieces that were furiously dismissed in academic circles in Norway when they first appeared almost 30 years ago, and in a way that have put an effective stop to weaker souls. Compared to some of the more ‘famous’ electronic composers, Nordheim distinguish’s himself by his sheer musicality and sense of structure...Electronic boxes, electric instruments and recorded tape glide in and out as a natural part of the orchestra, in constant pursuit of magical and spellbinding timbres. The orchestral parts reveal how working with mixers and tape splicing have influenced the development of musical ideas in more traditional arrangements.”
Heres our original review from 2004:
"After albums by Set Fire To Flames and Sylvain Chauveau, Max Richter's 'The Blue Notebooks' is the 4th release on FatCat's 130701 imprint, an outlet for more orchestrated, instrumental material. 'The Blue Notebooks' is Max Richter's second solo album, a distinctive and adventurous work that is beautifully recorded and cinematic in scope. Opening with a text from Franz Kafka over a sparse piano melody, the album moves through gorgeous, heart-wrenching string swells of 'On The Nature Of Daylight' through to sparse but lyrical piano pieces; hazy, swirling atmospherics, avalanche pulse-beats and partially occluded melodies that recall Aphex Twin's 'Ambient Works' albums; and to reverberant organ / choir recordings.
Utilising piano, cello, violin and viola, alongside electronic beats (made using a variety of antique electronics and Reaktor), spoken word passages and the occasional field recording, other sounds were generated via old guitar pedals and vocoders. Its lovely to see the Piano making a bit of a comeback, with last week's sublime album from "Hauschka" on Karaoke Kalk, Richter's "Blue Notebooks" and the forthcoming album from Helios on the Type imprint being three of the loveliest exapmples of just how moving this timeless instrument can be. Life affirming music."
The Basic Channel don meets the folk musicians of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for a beguiling exchange and fusion of traditions crossing paths between haunting acapella vocals, virtuosic instrumentation and sublime, dub-wise 4th world panoramas.
Locating MVO diversifying his bonds along outernational vectors, just like his BC bandmate Mark Ernestus with Ndagga Rhythm Force or Obadiah, the results form a series of studio portraits and wistful, impressionistic abstractions. They transport us to a place well off the usual map, to rugged lands once crossed by The Silk Road, where preserved, ancient traditions still reveal ghostly traces of the voices and sonic cultures which passed thru them.
The original arrangements of Ordo Sakhna range from complex, airborne string flights to nerve-jangling mouth harp pieces and a few stunning acapella pieces, which to our untrained ears resemble both Middle eastern, Indian classical and Chinese traditions, whilst the Drums track would appear to catch MVO in lissom fusion with live percussionists.
The multiple MVO dubs are a huge attraction, too. None more than the jaw-dropping Facets, where drums are swept in mountainous dynamic across the stereo field, joined by Hassell-esque dream tones and twanging mouth harp in one of the master’s most abstract, mercurial works in memory, whilst Bishkek, May 2016 catches them in live form at the Kyrgyzstan edition of Unsound festival, and the rolling Draught, and its version frame the spirits of Ordo Sakhna in his signature dub techno style, with results comparable to Shackleton when he removes the straight kicks.
One for the kinky French soundtrack fiends: 1st of two volumes presenting the 2011 CD compilation on vinyl for the first time.
“Rising out of the smoky Parisian Mai 68 shrapnel and claiming his stake as the first French vampire movie director, the inimitable father of European Horrortica, Jean Rollin (1938-2010) has smudged the painted face of surrealist cinema for over five decades. Dragging his roots from beneath the Letterist/Situationist movements, avant-garde theatre, Belgian fine art groups and entwining them around the minds of sexual revolutionaries, the European comic book cognoscenti, the Parisian free jazz and rock scene, Rollin stopped at nothing to bring his macabre phantasies of zygotic vampirism and back- ward blood cults to Gallic cinemateques and beyond. Celebrating the immortal legacy of the late director Finders Keepers Records have compiled a detailed and comprehensive music cabinet of some of the finest musical moments from his initial directorial decade (1968-1979) that provided a much needed platform for the freak rock and free jazz that mirrored the distorted erotic visions in his own mind’s eye. Imagine Gong-Gone-Wrong meeting the Art Ensembles Of Châteauroux… Fantasy pop groups mutate and thrive within.
Featuring early recordings from mod rockers Unity, free jazz legends Barney Wilen, François Tusque and Jean-François Jenny-Clark and musical co-conspirators to Walerian Borowczyk and Fernando Arrabal, this collection unites a wide range of previously unreleased material with some of Finders Keepers’ most collectable Rollinade vinyl moments for the first collection of this kind featuring music over forty years old.”
One of Japan’s most revered ambient/deep house/jazz heads shares his sublimely elegant early material with Music From Memory on Early Tape Works 1986-1993 Vol.1. In good company amid the groundswell of reissued Japanese classics and obscurities currently in circulation, this collection gives a smart overview of an artist who is still active and pivotal to modern scenes, as opposed to long over the hill, and demonstrates that the classy integrity of Takahashi’s approach to sound has been there since the start of his oeuvre.
Check it for sweetest ambient treats in his languorous ace Day Dreams, as well as the pulsing kosmiche lift of You Should Believe, featuring a brilliant but as yet uncredited female vocal, and the ruder industrial/EBM styles of Signifie and Zero To One, which relate to his streak of EBM releases as DRP for Dirk Ivens’ Body Records.
"The Japanese producer and DJ Kuniyuki Takahashi is the subject of Music From Memory’s latest retrospective compilation with ‘Early Tape Works - 1986-1993’. Composed of two volumes, the compilations gather together a selection of tracks from a tiny run of privately released tape only albums, highlighting a fascinating early period in Kuniyuki’s musical output, one of which little is known.
After discovering the world of nightclubs in Japan around 1986, and the seemingly boundless freedom expressed there through music as well as art, Kuniyuki became inspired to experiment with electronic music. Excited by the possibilities of new music technology, he would begin to gather together a number of, at that time, reasonably accessible and inexpensive local keyboards, drum computers and recording equipment. This became for Kuniyuki a way in which to explore music not as such made for nightclubs, but certainly inspired by them. Setting up a home studio in his hometown of Saporro, Kuniyuki would record extensively during this period with the equipment he had gathered together, equipment such as Roland’s Juno60, TR-606, TB-303, Casio FZ-1, Korg 770, Boss DE-200, Foster A8 and a Yamaha MT44 track cassette recorder.
Driven to develop a musical language derived as much by an exploration of music technology and a desire to create new sounds, Kuniyuki was also looking to evolve the possibilities of what he refers to as a ‘new Oriental sound’. Early Tape Works - 1986-1993’ then brings together two albums of material which not only highlights the evolution of Kuniyuki’s own work but also of Japanese electronic music as a whole."
Vital reissue of Chris & Cosey's fourth album proper, 'Exotica', fully remastered by Chris Carter. Originally released in 1987 and pretty much unavailable on vinyl ever since, 'Exotica' sees a slight shift into more club-friendly EBM/Electro, especially with the definitively anthemic title track which has since become the duo's calling card as much as anything else they've released.
In the likes of 'Dancing On Your Grave' or the flashy machine funk of 'Beatbeatbeat' we can also hear clear precedents for the likes of Autre Ne Veut and Twins, but we should remember that all the technology that went into these tracks was totally cutting edge at the time, from samplers to new digital synths and drum machines, lending this LP a timely sense of dedicated futurism. The exotika of the title can be felt in the cyber-sensuous Latin percussion and haunting synths of 'Dr. John (Sleeping Stephen)' and equally the simulated fourth world ambience of 'Irama', firmly enhancing its milestone status for dark and unexplained 80s electronics and dance music in general.
Avanti is Alessandro Cortini’s sixth album and his hauntological magnum opus; a masterful embodiment of his nostalgia for analog synth recordings wrapped up in a pall of decaying futurism. After numerous Forse volumes, a pair of LPs for Hospital Productions, a live recording tape and a collaboration with Merzbow, we’d wager that Avanti is the most substantial Cortini album to date.
In a Leyland Kirby/The Caretaker-esque gesture, Avanti investigates notions of memory surrounding music. Taking a time-capsule of old home movies made by his grandfather as a “perfect fossil of his childhood”, the NIN synthesist turns those cues into signature, billowing structures generated from the EMS Synthi AKS, resulting a record that is sore with a certain ‘hiraeth’, ‘saudade’ or ‘sehnsucht’ for a past which he comes to terms with in viscerally romantic style.
Across all seven parts, Cortini reflects the porous fragility of memory and its decaying glow quite literally in the piece’s fuzzy gaze and the inclusion of almost imperceptible “errors and mistakes”, and also metaphorically in their nostalgia-triggering strokes and wavering harmonic swells, which speak to and stimulate the limbic system with the same sort of magick defined by BoC or indeed Leyland Kirby.
They’re optimistic pieces riddled with and anchored by a sense of sadness, not necessarily cry-your eyes or rip-your-heart-out, but more a sanguine, bittersweet meditation laced with reverence to elegiac effect. For the most they come on as weather-beaten sonic postcards or hand-written missives, each introduced by ghostly voices and saying its piece as though whispering graveside or in private, keeping their messages neatly concise but impassioned in their delivery, save one final section when the feeling almost becomes too much to bear.
His canniness lies in worming out an personalising those combinations of chords, hooks which trigger feelings of nostalgia mutual to most folk who’ve grown up with the same culture and cultural connotations, and then wringing them out to the point of heartache/numbness, and practically making those gestures fulminate on contact with air, skin, nerves and infect your own corrupted memory banks.
Gorgeous 2nd album from Glasgow’s Happy Meals, dispatched via the ever-tantalising Night School a few years on from the duo’s equally endearing debut, Apéro (2014). If you're into Young Marble Giants, Vazz, Antenna, Pram etc, you'll love this.
Fruit Juice can be broadly but cleanly divided in two parts; on the hand they effortlessly charm with slower, creamily kosmiche pop pieces such as Run Round, which sounds a little like Quarantine-era Laurel Halo gone minimal wave, and the woozy psychedelic spell-casting of Fruit Float, which could be imagined as Julia Holter meets Iasos; whilst on the other hand they excel at a smartly pop-wise late ‘80s house and synth-pop style, marking up delicious gallic acid pop in If You Want Me Now and the Deux-styled Suivez Moi, and a real standout portion of mind-bending metallic techno-dub-pop in Now That You Have Me.
Coil’s unearthly garden continues to bloom posthumously with the Astral Disaster Sessions - including a whole bunch of previously unreleased and rare cuts from the Un/finished Musics recordings finally seeing the light of day, transferred from analogue tapes onto Gary Ramon’s Prescription label a year after the remastered original sessions crept out on vinyl reissue.
Notoriously recorded in the former debtors prison-turned-Iron Maiden studio beneath the River Thames, on Samhain, 1998, the Astral Disaster Sessions - Un/finished musics serves a haul of previously unreleased or hard-to-find versions of tracks from the original Astral Disaster [1999/2016] LPs, which are widely regarded a seminal highlight of Peter Christopherson, Johnn Balance, Drew McDowell, Thighpaulsandra and Gary Ramon’s time together as Coil.
On the A-side you’ll now find swirling raga-noise meditation The Sea Priestess (Early Mix) next to a sublime, previously omitted Part 2 tract of The Mothership and the Fatherland, and a skinnier, plasmic Alternative mix of The Avatars, but we imagine the big attractions for Coil fiends will be the Instrumental mix of I Don’t Want To be the One, which was previously only found on a rare 1999 promo-only Prescription sampler, and most particularly the ghostly and invasively psychedelic 14 minutes of Cosmic Disaster, which was the original working title for Astral Disaster, and has never been released on any format.
Autechre's classic third album from 1995, reissued for the first time in 15 years...
Completing the triumvirate of early Autechre essentials, Tri Repetae was the duo’s cranky contribution to mid ‘90s electronic music, and, like its predecessors - Incunabula and Amber - a record that completely defines certain aspects of that era for many electronica nerds, us included.
It’s possibly best known for including the peerless electro-trance swerve of Eutow - which could literally kill someone prone to AMSR in the right situations (not a bad way to gan) - whilst the rest of the LP cements some of Autechre’s sharpest, neck-snapping hip hop beats.
If you’ve only heard this album via download or streaming, or are only aware of their later gear, you’re in for total treat.
A late ‘90s neo-noir ambient and D&B masterpiece - imagine if The Caretaker made fierce, unrelenting Jungle - fully remastered by Rashad Becker and reissued 21 years since its original release back in 1997.
Christoph De Babalon was a key member of Germany’s mutant splinter cells who fused UK rave music with more experimental, Teutonic techno, Ambient and hardedge politics to brutal effect during the mid-late ‘90s. 21 years later, this music has patently withstood the test of time, distinguished by a haunting atmospheric pallor and ruffneck way with Jungle that still makes us feel just as clammy and psychotic as when we first heard it (most likely on a trip to Berlin or via Christoph Fringeli’s invaluable C8 database).
For us, If You’re Into It, I’m Out Of It really distills a feeling of that era, as the utopian outlook of rave’s early years had evidently given way to something much darker, more maudlin, perhaps symptomatic of ennui with dance music’s hyper-commercial land grab, or even a pre-echo of pre millennial tension. Either way it provided the perfect soundtrack to ravers who were spending more time developing virtual lives online, or (speaking from experience) who weren’t yet old enough to go raving, but were shelled with media images and 2nd impressions of the culture, which had by then morphed into the prevailing trends of garage, trance, and prog house, and was but a ghost of its original, loony self.
If You’re Into It, I’m Out Of It therefore feels torn between extreme states. On the one hand it goes harder than the rest in killer rave moves such as the hardcore rattler Dead (Too), the epic amen + drone blow-out My Confession, or the cutthroat beast Water. But on the other, he goes darker, more haunting than the rest of his field with remarkable cuts such as the 15 minutes of billowing dark ambience that open the LP in Opium, or with the sublime, Gas-like suspension system of Brilliance, and the funereal, bombed-out bliss of High Life (Theme).
De Babalon effectively plotted out terrain that bridged DJ Scud’s rugged jungle breakcore with soundscaping more commonly associated to Thomas Köner or Deathprod, and in the process set the ground for myriad contemporary producers and sounds ranging from Raime and Blackest Ever Black to Demdike Stare, Pessimisst and beyond. If You’re Into It, I’m Out of It was, and still is, a deadly statement of intent, whose rhetoric and aesthetic still strongly resonate with subcultural concerns in 2018.
C L A S S I C
Finders Keepers come up roses again with dazzling, never-before-heard live documentation of two Buchla 200 concerts recorded in 1975 by Suzanne Ciani. Rightly heralded as “a distinctive feminine alternative to The Silver Apples of the Moon”. The words “Holy Grail” and “revolutionary” spring to mind! Remarkable stuff for any synth fetishists or historians of the future.
“This spring Finders Keepers Records are proud to release an archival project that not only redefines musical history but boasts genuine claim to the overused buzzwords such as pioneering, maverick, experimental, groundbreaking and esoteric, while questioning social politics and the evolution of music technology as we’ve come to understand it. To describe this records as a game-changer is an understatement. This record represents a musical revolution, a scientific benchmark and a trophy in the cabinet of counter culture creativity.
This record is a triumphant yardstick in the synthesiser space race and the untold story of the first woman on the proverbial moon. While pondering the early accolades of this record it’s daunting to learn that this record was in fact not a record at all… It was a manifesto and a gateway to a new world, that somehow never quite opened. If the unfamiliar, modernistic, melodic, pulses, tones and harmonics found on this 1975 live presentation/grant application/educational demonstration had been placed in a phonographic context alongside the promoted work of Morton Subotnick, Walter Carlos or Tomita then the name Suzanne Ciani and her influence would have already radically changed the shape, sound and gender of our record collections. Hopefully there is still chance.”
Carsten Nicolai’s Noton present a masterclass in minimalist electronic discipline with Mika Vainio, Ryoji Ikeda + Alva Noto’s powerfully future-proofed Live 2002 performance, recorded at Newcastle’s Baltic arts centre.
The only known recording of the trio, as far as we’re aware, Live 2002 documents three visionary artists in seamless, indivisible collaboration segueing from sublime drone darkness (Movements 1) thru what sounds like a massive computer server centre playing dancehall (Movements 2 + 4), to fiercely dense electro dynamics (Movements 6) and passages of purest, rolling techno pressure (Movements 8), intercut with bodiless, beatless electronic frequency massages.
Being familiar with each artist’s respective, individual catalogues, we’re pretty astonished at the level of democratic control between the three singular producers. While it’s maybe possible (or pedantic) to pick out who’s doing what, and where and when, ultimately the 45 minute performance is a lesson in subtlety and restraint at the service of generating powerful, coolly organised pressure systems, without recourse to convention/cliché (delete as applicable), offering electronic sounds at the purest and perhaps even egoless. Definitely no grandstanding doofus in front of a massive IPhone screen filtering dull as fuck doofs here.
One of many peaches on Wackies, few are sweeter than Love Joys’ Lovers Rock Reggae Style .
Produced and originally issued by the JA/NYC bossman Bullwackie, and subsequently reissued via their Hardwax hook-up outta Germany, who’ve rightly kept it in print (this edition), Lovers Rock is all killer no filler, starring Claudette Brown and Sonia Abel riding high over killer disco-dub-edged lovers rock riddims such as the bubbling beauty One Draw and the synth-buoyed float of Let Me Rock You Now, all replete with dubs.
Finders Keepers pluck out a super disco freak from Italy’s late ‘70s cosmic disco scene, as played by members of Goblin and completely overlooked at the time - but hugely sought-after by disco diggers ever since. Original copies now trade loads of money…
“From the pumping heart of The Magnetic System comes the “dirtiest” Da-Da-dancefloor anti-jams with this lost 1979 blueprint of Italian conceptual cosmic disco played by the cream of the Goblin studio band. Ultra rare and unscrubbed, Finders Keepers finally snip the trip from the cash machine to the trash machine. Pay dirt just got dirtier.
Carving its own grubby niche as an early prototype of cosmic disco cum Italo space funk whilst simultaneously harbouring Dada hat stand satire with a junkshop glam aesthetic this ecological illogical poplitical crab cabaret clearly broke the mould before way before the jelly had set.
Fans of “other” obtuse outernational agit-camp might find a fantasy fusion between France’s J. P. Massiera and Sweden’s enviroMENTAL marvel Kaptain Zoom while trying to unravel the Madfilth tangle - but rest assured there were method men behind this madness and a portal to Italian funk royalty still festers at the bottom of the psych rap scrapheap.
Originally drip fed out of Cesare Andrea Bixio’s Cinevox stable as one of a tight grip of non-soundtrack LPs, made to test the label’s commercial potential, Madfilth would follow the band Goblin (and their non-cinematic Roller) as well as the hens’ teeth eponymous long player by the group The Motowns in what was perhaps the last-ditch attempt at custom built popsploitation - combining the skills of overqualified composers with undercooked conceptual mind farts! Naturally, after almost 40 years in the barrel, this micro-brewed oddity finally quenches the acquired taste of a new breed of shambolic psychotropic guzzlers proving that 1979 was obviously good year for fool’s gold. The Madfilth medicine has finally come to cure your psychic ills so open wide and don’t bite the spoon.
As both doctors and diggers will agree, always read the label. It is beneath the flamboyant rhythm rants and vari-speed osric slop of alt-comedic sarcy-satirist Alberto Macaro (a genetic beneficiary of a vaudevillian comic bloodline) that we find The Magnetic System maestros Franco Bixio and Vince Tempera as the sonic driving force behind this unmarked treasure trove of B-musical diamanté discoids. It will also come as little surprise that Cinevox/Dario Argento favourites Goblin were not too distant from the whiff of this curates egg with the men who many consider to be the group’s greatest assets in bass player Fabio Pignatelli alongside sports rock drummer Agostino Marangolo. It was this unison that remained consistent throughout Goblin’s career, weathering the temporary departure of Claudio Simonetti and maintaining the stylistic heartbeat of the group. Madfilth’s inclusion of Goblin synth Maverick Maurizio Guarini and the band’s mid-period guitarist Carlo Penessi (founder of the band Etna) pinpoints the jobbing Goblin session group during the time they recorded the soundtracks for the films Buio Amiga and Squadra Antigagsters. This lesser celebrated late 70’s era also witnessed the mutating Goblin rhythm section providing discoid backbeats for records such as Giorgio Farinas Discocross LP, Simonetti’s own Capricorn alter-ego and the homoerotic nightclub spin-off Easy Going - all of which, alongside Madfilth, provide a strong mutual stylistic support system for their claim to cosmic discos deep red bloodline.”
Mats Gustafsson: Tenor, baritone and bass saxophones, live electronics. Johan Berthling: Electric and double bass. Andreas Werliin: Drums, percussion and feedback.
"For 20 years Rune Grammofon have made a habit of releasing music that is beyond easy classification, in later years typified by Swedish trio Fire!, consisting of Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin. All three are highly accomplished musicians, but Fire! music is not "difficult" in the sense that jazz and especially free jazz is often perceived.
Very much a tight knit unit with three equal players, Fire! has been likened to powerful guitar led trios such as Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, but with Berthling´s heavy, doom laden basslines being such a typical identifier, we can´t help but thinking of Black Sabbath´s debut album when it comes to hypnotic impact. The Hands is the trio´s sixth album and once again displays a totally uncompromising and intriguing mix of (mostly) heavy, dark and intensely burning music whether one decide on calling it jazz or rock.
The album closes on a quiet and reflective note with the appropriately titled "I Guard Her To Rest. Declaring Silence". And we say it´s easily their best so far. Gustafsson, Berthling and Werliin came together in 2008 with the idea of a fresh approach to improvised music, with a number of influences from free jazz, psychedelic rock and noise.
Their debut album, You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago, was released the following year to wide international acclaim. The trio is also their vehicle for rekindling their instrumental skills and playing outside their comfort zones, or collaborating with prestigious guests such as Jim O´Rourke (Unreleased? 2011) and Oren Ambarchi (In The Mouth A Hand 2012). A parallel but no less powerful project is their gargantuan Fire! Orchestra, previously a 30 piece behemoth. Now scaled down to a "mere" 13 piece, and for the first time including a string section, a new album is expected in autumn 2018."
Jealous God call for EBM reinforcements with three new tracks from Pye Corner Audio, and a collab between Marcel Dettmann & Silent Servant.
Pye Corner Audio does it slow, grubby and inquisitive on Delay Gratification, teasing in a sort of industrial zombie cumbia, while Meet Me In The Void follows a muggier hunch into Carpenter-esque synth alleys, and The Future is a bleak as f^ck black knot of acid rolling with stygian function.
Dettmann subtly indulges his longheld passion and fascination for EBM in collaboration with Juan Mendez aka Silent Servant on The Bond, where they marry a strapping lead arp with floating, over-the-shoulder voices and booming kicks, all pinned into place by a reverberating snare that’s sure to ricochet around Berghain’s main hall like stay shrapnel.
Sniffing at the heels of a smart début 12" for Interstellar Funk's Artificial Dance, Worries, Job Sifre slips into a grimier EBM mode for Amsterdam’s excellent Knekelhuis label.
Charged with a pharmaceutically-enhanced restlessness, the Bestaan 12” goes on darker, tuffer, kinkier than Sifre’s previous 12”, gradually bringing the energies to simmering point with the smudged EBM roil and blunted Dutch vox of Bestaan, then working a wicked ruts of White House White-styled jakbeat in Zodiak and the sourer, metallic recoil of Mars Express, and properly making your body wurk with the pendulous tattoo, Zeno Dicho before sloping off into the darkroom with the slower disco admission, At Least We Try.
The cuties at STROOM 〰 dish it up with extra mayo on their highly sought-after AA-side Valentine’s feature, pairing Keysha’s kinky ‘80s R&B beauty Stop It! with the starlit yacht-disco downstroke of What Is Love Today? by FG’s Romance.
Ziggy Devriendt’s selector chops are in full effect here, plucking out an absolute blinder with the onanistic coos and satin chords of Stop It!, originally the B-side to Keysha’s I’m a Thumbsucker! 12”, which is now impossible or dead expensive to buy 2nd hand, while FG’s Romance gives it some ‘80s FM swang on the B-side with What Is Love Today?
That A-side is 100% unmissable.
Project 223 marks the maiden union of two veteran UK techno producers, Lee Grainge and Steve Bicknell, who’ve clearly still got some gurns to burn with the chunky acid moves of On A Mountain.
Arriving in the wake of Steve Bicknell’s return to the fray with the 6Dimension label, whose Jing release sports vocals which uncannily resemble those attributed to Horizontal Charlie inside this 12”, the cryptically titled Project 223 (anything to do with Soul 223, a.k.a. Stasis?) get down to proper, rugged fundamentals with the search and destroy acid jaxx of Be Free, replete with that vocal, zig-zagging in classic style across the A-side, whereas Tell Me opts for a more stripped back and pent-up drive detailed with the intricacy Grainge has come to learn from his years since 1999 spent as a sound FX editor for TV and film.
They aren’t reinventing the wheel, but they are making it spin better.
A much needed dose of tropical dancefloor heat!
Tropical Discotheque' is compiled by the gents behind Sofrito's clubnight of the same name, made up of nearly impossible to find vintage 'floor fillers, brand new edits from Frankie Francis and Simbad and even an exclusive cumbia from Quantic. Opening to the chugging, tugging cumbia of Banda Los Hijos de la Niña Luz 'Quiero Amançer' they wind through he infectious Afrobeat killers 'Les Ya Toupas du Zaire' and 'Maye Obi Den', via Simbad and Frankie Francis' deadly edit of Victor Uwaifo's 'Ohue', to swaying soca from Mighty Shadow, Quantic y su Conjunto los Míticos del Ritmo's authentically modern 'Cumbia de Mochilla' and a sweet calypso in Roaring Lion's 'Carnival Long Ago'. Pure party fuel!