Still one of the best techno albums out of Berlin in this millennium so far, Shed’s seminal debut LP, Shedding The Past is finally and necessarily reissued on his own label, The Final Experiment - newly expanded to include all 12 tracks from the CD edition, and cut to heavier vinyl than the original 2008 pressing!
Thanks to the timeless cues and intent it was built on, Shedding The Past still sounds amazing today, working to an effortlessly adroit, light-footed and dynamic schematic that makes much of his subsequent work feel a bit clunky and overdone by comparison.
On release in 2008, it was a seriously big album for a techno world in flux between classic Detroit house, echoes of UK dubstep, broken beat and Braindance, and traces of tuffer Frankfurt sounds - all components of the Soloaction sound he’d developed for years prior.
Fair to say that Shed distilled those styles perfectly in his début album, as proved in its most impressive highlights such as the balletic gait of Another Wedged Chicken, the misty-eyed beauty of The Lower Upside Down and the breakbeat seduction of ITHAW, but most powerfully in its spine-freezing eternal anthem, Estrange.
Trust us: no techno collection is complete without a copy of this album.
Laurel Halo stakes an eagerly and widely awaited return with the beguiling 4.1 world techno dimensions of 'In Situ' for Honest Jon's after cutting her teeth with highly acclaimed albums and EPs for Hippos In Tanks (R.I.P.) and Hyperdub.
Arriving two years since the Ann Arbor-quartered musician began testing a new hardware set-up on 'Chance of Rain', Laurel has refined those slightly clunky experiments here with a fluidly dextrous approach to Afro-inspired, rhythmelodic drum programming taught by psychedelic jazz and cosmic electronica.
It's a mental playground of fantastic dancefloor geometries, blooming at every angle with refreshed ideas of alien scales and hieroglyphic drum patterns designed to be deciphered by bodies in motion and heads in flight.
With nods to Afrikan Sciences, Kerry Leimer and Actress, she commands her machines with a deceptively loose sense of control, encouraging them to chatter freely, coolly, resulting in the ingneous, midnight groove formations of 'Focus I' and the future primitive techno funk of 'Drift', beside the discombobulated topographies of 'Nah' and the footworking centrifuge, 'Leaves'.
Time will tell, but this may well be one of the 2015's most impressive, nuanced collections of new electronica. A massive recommendation!
Although often overshadowed by the more popular ‘Treasure’, 'Head Over Heels' is perhaps the most influential album in the Cocteau Twins catalogue and one that continues to confound 35 years later.
The band’s second album, it was recorded in 1983 mostly as a duo of Fraser and Guthrie, and was the first album to make a real feature of Liz Fraser’s made up, oddly intoned vocabulary. More hard-edged and loud than Treasure, Head Over Heels is also a marvel of production - the way the guitars stay submerged in the mix while the drums pound, those sudden key changes, small flourishes etched into eternity.
Coming not long after original bassist Will Heggie had departed the band, the chemistry between Fraser and Guthrie moved the band on from the starkness of their debut; they were now making the music that would help them define the decade ahead; her wordless, dreamlike vocals a powerful instrument over his lush, textured guitars.
They just don’t make them like this any more (although Demen tried).
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.”
Completing the lovely song cycle of Tenniscoats’ ‘Music Exists’, Volume 4 wraps up with gorgeous vocal harmonies, sun-kissed strums and the kind of fragile pop delicacy that’s won over hearts and ears around the world...
"Alien Transistor and Tokyo-based label Afterhours release the vinyl-version of Volume 4 of tenniscoats' masterpiece "music exists" and therefore eventually accomplish this magic quadruple release by the Japanese experimental folk luminaries.
"Tenniscoats have devoted followers all over the world, but their releases were always hard to find outside of Japan. Except for their album "Tokinouta", which saw a very limited run on vinyl, and the seminal "Two Sunsets", their collaboration with The Pastels (and a small handfull of 7"s), there were never any vinyl-releases, and also the CDs were hard to get for any-one, who doesn't speak or read Japanese.
So, this is the chance to dive deep into the beautiful, unique world of the tenniscoats and their opus magnum "music exists"."
Further to Peggy’s Once 12”, and ahead of her début album, Phonica White turn out an effortlessly swinging house play Travelling Without Arriving
It's nacked with a fruitier and thicker layered Nite Stealth Ninja Mix by Brooklyn’s Ge-Ology, who’s previously released jazzy goods on Sound Signature and Dekmantel.
Numerous publications have since declared it one of the best albums of the 90s, with Pitchfork calling it “a core of ungodly gorgeous songs that is every bit as moving and relevant today as it ever was.”
Label founder Ivo Watts-Russell goes further, candidly revealing in the recent 4AD biography ‘Facing The Other Way’ that this album wasn’t just his favourite Cocteaus album but also his favourite all-time 4AD album and, “by a long shot,” calling it “the perfect record.” With tracks as majestic as the title track, ‘Cherry-Coloured Funk’ and ‘Iceblink Luck’, who’s to argue?
After a searing run of releases and remixes, Ancient Methods makes the natural move to working with vocalists in The Asking Breath Comes To Each, teaming up with Tropic Of Cancer, Huren, Zanias, and Azar Swan for a distinctive new addition to AM’s carefully expanding catalogue.
The sole preserve of Michael Wollenhaupt for some years now, in the last few years Ancient Methods has carved towards working vocals to deadly effect on a number of remixes for everyone from The Soft Moon to Wolfsheim, beside his own edits as Room 506.
All this has clearly fed into the stonking original material found on The Asking Breath Comes To Each, which royally boots off with the harpy screech of Azar Swan over the scorched earth gallop of Swallow The Screw, before trimming back to the acidic darkroom canter of The Standards Will Come And Go feat. a possessed Dave Foster aka Huron - arguably summat of a wet dream for anyone who needs talc to help get their duds on.
Tropic Of cancer executes a perfect, pensive and floating counterpoint to the razor sharpened 16th note serrations of It Won’t Take Me on the B-side, and we’re feeling pangs of guilty glee towards the borderline cheesy/lush epicness of Zoe Zanias’ vocal on the restrained pulse of Andromeda.
Lars T C F Holdhus follows one of the very best releases of the new millenium so far, the 'Untitled' tape for YYAA, with another cryptic future-shock, his 1st for Liberation Technologies.
Continuing a trajectory away from the calculated dance mash-ups of his now-defunct Cracksmurf alias, this project and mini-album is based on a whole other algorithmic strategy, rendering densely coded formulae into utterly mind-boggling and synaesthetically affective compositions. Once you've heard his music and done a little research into his academic background and visual practice - he studied at Frankfurt's famed Städelschule; is fascinated by data encryption; loves a good brew - it almost becomes really hard not to hear T C F's music as immensely complex, fluctuating plumes of code billowing and refracting across infinite virtual landscapes.
It's fxxking staggering stuff, soaring between hardstyle peaks and the kind of ultra-lucid FX you'd expect to hear while watching Transformers at the iMax, traversing wide-open, lysergic ambient space and majestic neo-classical (more Matrix than Max Richter, tho) gestures with an incisive balance of wry humour and emotional pathos that's all too rare, nay absent, from much stuff nowadays. Ultimately, words fall well short of adequately describing this stuff; it simply needs to be experienced, fully immersed, piloerect, pupils dilated. It's one of 2014's most crucial pieces of new music, no doubt.
Following a trio of acclaimed, genre-confounding 12" drops - for his own Diagonal imprint and most recently The Death of Rave - London's Powell reports for duty at Mute's dance R&D department, Liberation Technologies.
'Fizz' picks up where the mighty 'A Band' left off, being an anachronistic party-starter that splits the difference between rockabilly shuffle and gear-grinding industrial stomp, spiced with aromatic no wave samples and squirts of acrid electronic noise - techno for teddy boys. 'Wharton Tiers On Drums' revives the jerry-built, tunnelistic groove of early Powell ace 'The Ongoing Significance Of Steel & Flesh', but jerks the toms harder, adding sampled shout-outs to the eponymous sticksman and inviting you to contort yourself on the dancefloor.
'Beat' is a return to the sparsest rhythm science, simultaneously invoking the loping hypno-rock of Can, the popper-crazed brawn of Nitzer Ebb and the sparse techstep rollage of Nico and Ed Rush circa Torque.
The overdue and overproof sophomore Young Echo album is finally upon us, dispensing an epic 24 tracks of subby, red-eyed and distinctively Bristolian vibes set to dank-out smoky dwellings everywhere. Arriving five years after Nexus, their eponymous second album features cuts from each of the 11-strong mob, framing a fractious mosaic of style and pattern rooted in dub and the dancehall, but unafraid to fxck with noise, techno, ambient pop and grime in their own way.
It’s a proper group effort, playing to their strengths in diversity and unity in the best way by keeping individual track credits close to their chest, only allowing the album to be taken as a whole. Yeh, of course everyone’s going to have personal favourites, but they’re only facets of a much bigger body, and it’s to their credit that the whole thing feels coherent, a shared experience, and doesn’t simply sound like a compilation of music by like minds.
Young Echo have always been a bit of sore-thumb in the scene - are they a band? A label? A soundsystem in the mould of The Wild Bunch? The one takeaway from all their material is a sense of shared purpose and democracy - not in the usual, arrogant indie band style, or in-your-face political militancy - pivoting around mutual ideas of economy of expression and a sensitivity to space, rhythm and tone that effectively all pulls back to dub, no matter their individual heritage.
Young Echo is an organic complex where light hardly penetrates its papyrus-like walls, and much of the most crucial communication is made via infrasonics and atonality, relaying messages and emotions both as metaphorical/physical vibes and quite literally thru a morphing voice, which might be gruff poetic realism of Rider Shafioque one minute, the crisply enunciated diction of Jabu or Chester Giles the next, while a number of ghostly, sampled characters also haunt its corridor, perfusing half-heard messages thru their smoky matrix.
It adds up to an album symptomatic of the times in which it was made, yet does so timelessly, bridging the original, super plush studio trip hop creation of their geographic forebears, Massive Attack or Portishead, with a more road-level appreciation of economy and soul which might be best recognised by members of their generation, but should also be felt by any open-minded and empathetic souls the world over.
It’s definitely not another fxcking coffee table record, we’ll give you that for free.
Debut vinyl EP by Tokyo-based algorave pioneer, Renick Bell, for Lee Gamble's UIQ, Recommended if you're into Autechre, Brood Ma, Richard Devine, Phoenecia etc!
The angular, abstract funk of Renick Bell’s Empty Lake EP for Lee Gamble’s UIQ is perhaps exactly what you might expect from a pioneer of algoraves - a forward-looking union of live coding and rave music that’s currently taking computer boffins out of the studio/bedroom and placing them in real, physical spaces to hear what happens.
To date, beyond the live algoraves, Bell’s music has mostly been contained in his chaotic Fractal Beats series on soundcloud and thoroughly unpackaged in academic papers on live coding and pragmatic aesthetic theory. With the Empty Lake EP he offers a refinement of the ideas in Fractal Beats, skilfully teasing out a tangle of post techno pulses, shards of catty ballroom house, hardcore kuduro and filigree footwork patterns twisted into shimmering, convulsive contours and unstable, scattered melodies.
In an obvious sense, his sound is heavily compatible with the recent Lanark Artefax 12” on UIQ and certainly finds sympathies with Lee Gamble’s most obtuse aspects, but it also feels more feral, overgrown that either of those artists’ work in a way that relishes his software’s capacity for creating wild new junctures of sound that effectively re-program his and our brains in real time while we’re listening.
From the elasticated, recoiling swang of Trying To Control The Four Winds to the Patten-like melt of The Well and the fluctuating states of Surface Waters Flow Together, there’s a level of detail to these tracks which will become apparent on first listen, and which will continue to baffle your sense of proprioception, meter and tone for long after the moment.
Mute's Liberation Technologies make it funky with Mark Fell's infectious 'n-Dimensional Analysis 1-14', following editions from Powell, British Murder Boys and Bandshell.
As with nearly all Fell's work, there's an instinctive hyper-funkiness to all 14 sections split over both sides, working a flex somewhere between his dancefloor-compromised Sensate Focus features and the more visceral experiments under his own name.
It's music for a 'floor where we can all dance like Storyboard P (or at least in our own heads), unravelling the knottiest syncopation between slicing claps, sprays of hi-hat and jabbing digital bass around mercurial chords which open out, contort and tesselate in mid-air. Their effect is deliciously gratifying for anyone with an ounce of bounce in their bones; a lushly prickly set of body coordinates ready to work your brain and booty to a precisely digitised lather.
Vessel finally presents a follow-up to his unanimously acclaimed debut solo and Young Echo collective albums.
It's a hard step to the right for Liberation Technologies after avant-funk excursions with Powell and Mark Fell, steering into a more primal yet texturally satisfying sound that breaks down the wrought complexities of 'Order Of Noise' and reassembles them in three crooked, mutant constructions. Up top the title track comes off like a calcified, prototypical grime riddim written by Æ in the mid '90s; soaring Detroit synth harmonies evolve from a brittle-boned flux of delayed kicks and industrial ticks synched to swing.
Flipside, 'VMI' comes off like Jameszoo gone feral on an chemical industrial plant, meshing lysergic melodies and mutant, off-kilter groove in disused storage chamber reverbs, and 'Not For Design' marks itself out as the big club groove with throbbing, primal bass hook and infected computer melodies all scratched and sandpapered to rub 'em up the wrongest way.
Autechre's classic debut album from 1993, reissued for the first time in 15 years...
Go on, blink; for the first time in fifteen years Autechre’s peerless debut album, Incunabula is reissued as a facsimile copy of the original, 1993 release, replete with silver-printed gatefold jacket.
We’re not going to bang on about this too much, but you should know by now that Incunabula is one of the cornerstones of modern electronic music, one of the pinnacles of the British rave epoch and among the most life-affirming records ever, bar none.
Aye, it’s 100% essential.
First Take That, then the Spice Girls; now Regis and Surgeon's British Murder Boys are the latest iconic English group to reform.
Following a successful live reunion at the maiden Blackest Ever Black night in October 2011, Birmingham's infamous sons have re-entered the studio together, resulting in 'Where Pail Limbs Lie' for Mute's Liberation Technologies. They've practically picked up where they left in 2006, dealing in first class darkside techno. 'Dead Sun' works out their demons on a coercive, roiling rhythm - equal parts Surgeon shunt and the sort of body-gratifying rollige of Regis' Cub or upcoming Ugandan Methods material - mixed with howling synths and garotting strings leading to a superb outro.
'Another Country' is more reserved, introspective, built around hydraulic dub bass and steppin' drums with fibrillating synthlines and icy metallic drones for hypnotic effect. A welcome return.
Laurel Halo returns to album format after two critically acclaimed EPs with the driving, meditative 'Chance Of Rain'. Evolving from earlier works, it's a cerebral exploration of the intersection between rhythmic and ambient music, drawing together moments of movement and stillness, psychedelia and presence of mind.
On 'Chance Of Rain', rhythms melt with unpredictable structures, ambient drift and deep harmonic passages, while keyboard-based interludes reinforce both the far-out and contemplative aspects of the record as a whole. Halo's evolution as a live performer has directed her music's development in part, as the tracks on ‘Chance Of Rain’ are fleshed out versions of live hardware improvisations. This LP is far off from the definition of a traditional dance long player; where tracks like ‘Serendip’, ‘Chance Of Rain’ and ‘Ainnome’ invite with infectious grooves, others like ‘Oneiroi’, ‘Still/Dromos’ and ‘Thrax’ invert these energies, revealing sinister potential in the process. Again Halo's knack for illusory detail and sound design shines, and another duality feeling emerges, this time one of unearthly joy. Drawing inspiration from the music of her home state's music capital Detroit, in both harmonic and rhythmic palettes, the music showcases freedom within metric constructs, and skyward optimism in the face of decay. The album comes packaged with artwork created by her father, an NYC-born, Michigan-based visual artist whose work focuses on industrial landscapes of Michigan and the Rust Belt at large. The artwork here is an early work of his from the 1970s, reflecting the album's twisted, hopeful tone."
T++ presents his much anticipated doublepack for Honest Jons, his final release under the T++ moniker.
For this project Torsten Pröfrock was given access to the label's vaults, selecting a handful of samples from two recordings of the singer and ndingidi-player Ssekinomu, made in East Africa at the end of the 1930s and in the mid-1940s. He deftly weaves snippets of these recordings into his matrix of rhythms, adding a human (albeit acousmatically warped) element to his music that we've never heard before. In a certain sense, it follows a very long tradition of German electronic auteurs looking to Africa for inspiration, from Karlheinz Stockhausen, to Can, to his peers Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus, seeking to connect his consciously futurist ambitions with something more primal and innate.
The result is a crop of tracks that take the lurching urge of 2-step, techno, dubstep and D'n'B and re-sculpts it into twisting new forms, mutating bare bones kick/snare syncopations into a coded double helix, around which connective tissues of adroit FX and sub-bass coalesce.
Physical Therapy freaks the beat for Liberation Technologies, adding to a litany of oddly balanced and rudely effective outings for Hippos In Tanks, UTTU, and his own label, Allergy Season.
Aided in-the-mix by Max McFerren, The Earth Splashed finds the Brooklyn resident at his most rabidly funked-up and psychedelic in six bad-handed cuts that gnash for the 'floor.
Hit The Breaks (Main Mix) straddles B-More and UK-style rufige with a restless, ruffneck energy that defines the EP from the warehouse warp of Mahnbescheid and the OG 'ardcore techno skank of Tell Me (Hardcore Mix) on the A-side, thru to the dry drum crack and lysergic curry splash of Clean Slate and a killer flip of the drums from Dilla's Nothing Like This in Pointalism.
The long awaited Remix album, featuring reworks from Andy Stott, Oneohtrix Point Never, Electric Youth, Alva Noto, Arca, Motion Graphics, Fennesz, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Yves Tumor, S U R V I V E and Cornelius...
We shouldn’t have to be writing this, but naturally the Jóhann Jóhannsson remix of Solari takes on a much darker shade of blue in light of his recent, untimely passing, yet it equally stands out as the LP’s most uncannily suggestive highlight. R.I.P..
Elsewhere, Yves Tumor can be trusted to handle Zure with a sensitively suspenseful sort of R&B/quasi-ambient breakbeat flip, while Andy Stott feathers Life, Life into an elegiac airborne waltz, Alva Noto catches Disintegration in a sublime, quiescent state, and Arca lends his own, original, tortured torch song vocal and windswept beat to a rework of Async with utterly heart-breaking impact. Yelp, this one really gets us.
Another sterling pick from Sacred Summits, Morgan Fisher’s charmingly playful 'Inside Satie'  sees its first ever vinyl reissue on Lindsay Todd and Stuart Leith’s cult label.
Morgan Fisher has had a storied career as part of ’60s one-hit wonders Love Affair, thru to playing keys for Mott The Hoople in the ‘70s, and working on ambient, improv and soundtracks in the ‘80s alongside Yoko Ono, Haruomi Hosono and Dip In The Pool.
Inside Satie was recorded in Japan following Fisher’s move from the UK in the mid ’80s. Perhaps a perfect fit for the sophisticates of Tokyo at the time, the album adapts Satie’s timeless minimalism to a mix of electronic and acoustic instruments, highlighting and feeding into the similarities between Gnossiene and Gymnopedie and the new age ambient zeitgeist of Japan in 1985.
As a meditation aid, a coffee table staple, and a historic artefact, Inside Satie is a beautiful and warmly satisfying document totally worthy of reappraisal in 2018.
The widely-adored post-Stereolab unit of Tim Gane, Joe Dilworth and their pal Holger Zapf take their krautrock/psych buggy for another long player jag
Following from recent reissue of their debut LP Blood Drums and a new album, Void Beats/Invocation Trex, both released in 2016, on Hormone Lemonade they refuel the tank with gallons of liquid LSD and, presumably decked in best rollnecks and comfy cords for a highly stylised and charmingly archaic trip back to ‘70s psych vibes.
Dizzyingly strong DJ Marfox gear marking a stellar return to Príncipe; the label he kicked off with his debut release, the Eu Sei Quem Sou EP back in 2011.
As the New Lisbon scene’s godfather, Marfox is responsible for inspiring and rallying a wave of thrilling, yung new producers from the city to grow their roots into a proudly unique dance sound that’s subsequently become coveted by DJs, dancers and labels far from their sunny ghetto.
In the best sense, we get the feeling that Príncipe have been biding their time for a new DJ Marfox release, and that foresight pays off dividends with the colourful, head-rush styles of Chapa Quente, which are given perfect context in the wake of amazing 12”s by Nidia Minaj, Normal Nada, and DJ Nigga Fox, et al.
From the ratchet flutes and spring-loaded battery of 2685 to the industrialised croak and galvanised percussion of Unsound - so titled after formative experience at the Polish festival - he allows a lush moment of romance with the slow and sweet Tarraxo Everyday but the energy levels are peaked again with the wavy Kassumbula and the tendon-sparking Cobra Preta, whilst the trickling marimba melody of B 18 pulls up his central and west African heritage and and a melting pot of syncretic influence soaked up from his origins in the now-demolished Quinta da Vitória shantytown.
Fast becoming one of the most crucial archival imprints around, Pete Swanson and Jed Bindeman's Freedom To Spend takes us down another largely unfamiliar musical wormhole with this first time reissue of a beautifully rich take on American Minimalism from Valencian artist, Pep Llopis, originally released in 1987.
And it’s definitely a curio, somehow filling a mental gap in our minds between Les Disques Du Crépuscule’s obsession with Wim Mertens’ overt romanticism and the American minimalism of Reich, Glass and La Monte Young or their modern counterparts Maxwell Sterling, or even 0PN. The result is a sound that’s really quite hard to place; orchestral, brimming with ideas, narrated with a kind of detached sound poetry that has no obvious reference points.
As the label explains, “This record is meant to be enjoyed like a seascape. It offers a Mediterranean journey, one that Ulysses, Aeneas, and Jason with his Argonauts charted first and Pep Llopis, retraced and retread — from the islands of Menorca to Santorini. All of his experiences are aboard this vessel of sound: no format in mind, no course but the chasm within self. The music gently laps against listening skin— sometimes placid, sometimes shimmering. Ripples of sound swell and quicken. Flutes like schools of fish. The spray of chimes. Taught strings break like the shore. Tingling, undulating synths. The record cover acts as a map, tracing the forms of the original art and providing the poems in Catalan and Spanish.”
It reminds us of Mamangakis’ sprawling soundtrack to the first two series of Edgar Reitz’s Heimat, effortlessly spinning delicate Minimalism and Sound Art through a kind of unapologetic inclusiveness. It’s also very much a release borne from a belief that avant-garde composition doesn't have to be elitist in form, resulting in an album of memorable and moving sound worlds unlike much that we’ve heard before.
Perhaps most importantly, though, it establishes Freedom To Spend as one of those rare labels that you should allow yourself to be blindly guided by. Wherever Swanson and Bindeman choose to take us next, we’re there.
The World of Harry Partch is a seminal survey of the arch iconoclast’s efforts in consolidating the myriad voices which made up American 20th century music.
Collecting three of his famous shorter works, Daphne of The Dunes, Barstow, and Castor & Pollux, this LP is a perfect portal to Partch’s peculiar and radical fusions of Orientalist themes with African percussions and Hobo language. Most importantly it omits reference to the traditions of Western, European music which he believed constricted perceptions and definitions of a “true” American music.
It’s best described in his own terms, as ‘ritual’ or ‘corporeal’ music, which both refers directly to the original intentions of the music he drew from, and to its physical nature, which eschewed electronics in favour of his self-built instruments and their tactile capacity for unique tunings. Of course, you can listen to these recordings without any prior knowledge of their provenance and totally enjoy them for their alien familiarity, but when taken in context of Partch’s philosophy, they really take on a whole life of their own. Dive in!
“'Daphne of the Dunes' (1967) is a side-long update of 'Windsong' written for dance. The melodic segments are given more emphasis than usual for a Partch piece, and harmonically this is one of his best with arpeggiated glides/cries of the Harmonic Canons evoking our sympathies. Meter changes almost measure by measure, with one section in 31/16 meter; another (polymetric) section consists of 4/4-7/4 over 4/8-7/8! Needless to say, while being very physical, Partch's music isn't something you can easily tap your foot to. What's most important is that it works. Partch was not one to introduce musical complexity merely for its own sake, another factor that separated him from his contemporaries. Not only are the rhythms complex, but they are performed at a frantic pace unequaled by any music I've hard (save perhaps the inhumanly fast player piano pieces of Conlon Nancarrow!).
This is characteristic of most of Partch's works, though I think 'Daphne' is one of the most successful and exhilarating. 'Barstow -- Eight Hitchhiker Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California' was composed in 1941 as part of 'The Wayward.' It offers such statements as 'Go to 538 East Lemon Avenue for an easy handout' and 'Looking for millionaire wife...' This charismatic piece is successful due to the contrasting of Partch's intoning voice with others in the ensemble and to increased instrumental emphasis. Last is 'Castor and Pollux' in a more modern performance than From the Music of Harry Partch, with greater vigor and fidelity. The World of Harry Partch is an excellent introduction to his works that comes highly recommended." -- Surface Noise
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.
Brandon Hocura’s Séance Centre pull out Sam McLellan’s sublime 1982 new age opus Music Of The Five Elements for this invaluable first vinyl reissue. Devised as ‘healing music’ designed to “balance the energy levels of the body”, this, the first of three sought-after volumes, borrows from the ancient Chinese philosophy of medicine now used in acupuncture, to riff pentatonic on guitar, synth, piano and ciao (Chinese flute) in a seamless, rolling suite best consumed in one go for best effect. The A-side is focussed on the cyclical guitar strums, while a much stronger 2nd side focusses deeper on the synth, keys and vocal treatments.
“Acupressurist and electronic composer Sam McClellan's Music of the Five Elements is a work of perfectly tuned healing music. A deeply felt distillation Minimalism (in the Tony Conrad / La Monte Young school), American Primitive guitar (Fahey & Basho) and even psychedelia. The album is a continuous sound voyage for voice, synthesizer, guitar, bowed bass, piano, effects and ciao (Chinese flute) all played by McClellan himself. Although divided into sections, the journey is best undertaken as a whole, without distraction. As McClellan himself wrote on the original liner notes:
"The optimum effect of Music of the Five Elements will be achieved if each side of this recording is played through, from beginning to end without interruption. Music of the Five Elements, when used as a meditational or body work tool, rather than entertainment, will increase in effect over time. Overplaying or improper use, however, may eventually diminish its designed effect.”
Devotional Songs marks a necessary and refreshing change of direction by Shackleton; collaborating with London-based Italian castrato-style singer Ernesto Tomasini to sound like some lost Coil recordings.
The whirligig drawbar organs of Shackleton’s releases since 2012 are still in effect, but tempered in balance with Tomasini’s remarkable vocal range and some really lush, almost Detroit-style synth harmonies and ritual atmospheres whilst his signature palette of bass and drums hints at some Far and South East Asian influence in the vein of Sleazy’s Threshold HouseBoys Choir recordings.
It’s a beautifully self-contained project covering a broad range of esoteric topography from the detoxing vibrations of Rinse out All Contaminants to the sweepingly epic resolution of Father, Yiou Have Left Me, whilst unmistakably referencing some of Coil or Current 93’s most haunting moments in the chiming harmonic haze, swelling chorales and operatic drama of You Are The One, and the spirit-rousing string arrangements in Twelve Shared Addictions.
Hundebiss bossman Simone Trabucchi - a pivotal figure of the Italian scene - debuts his STILL alias on PAN with a batch of banging, multi-layered dancehall tracks inspired by the complex historical links between his hometown, Vernasca, with Jamaica, and Italy’s colonial past in Ethiopia.
Part of a wider visual arts project, Invernomuto, helmed alongside Simone Bertuzzi, and comprising a series of sculptures, installations, a book, and a long-feature experimental documentary under the title ‘Negus’‘, Simone takes cues from a “cleansing counter-ritual performed by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry in the Vernasca square where 80 years earlier, an effigy of Haile Selassie I was burned” to cook up a madd set of dancehall tracks voiced by six Milan-based, African-Italian vocalists and singers.
The results weigh in remarkably close to the colourful, plugged-in dancehall art/science of Equiknoxx, effectively pulling together the diffracted aspects of his project into a direct yet psychedelically-charged set which strongly reverberates with its roots.
Keener observers will be quick to identity the amazing Nazenet (Wasp Rhythm) as a vocal version of STILL’s uncredited Untitled riddim from Halcyon veil’s Conspiración Progresso compilation, but unless you’ve been listening to Bill Kouligas DJ sets, the rest is all new and exclusive, taking in the weightless prayer of Haile Selassie Is The Micro-Chip, wobbly acid hall knocks in Bubbling Ambessa, and the meter-messing flux of Rough Rider along with style recalling that Vipra ace on Presto!? in Banzina, plus the warped Bionic Ras bumps of Gozpaal and some seriously salty dubbing in the plasmic squeeze of Mangrovia
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.
After a slew of acclaimed releases by Equiknoxx, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Shinichi Atobe and Mica Levi in 2017, Demdike Stare’s DDS start 2018 in typically unexpected style with a remastered reissue of the little known second album from Move D’s Conjoint ensemble. Late night listeners ’n lovers of Miles Davis, Tortoise or Jan Jelinek’s neon Jazz minimalism will love this - in our eyes a total classic.
Conjoint was the little-known but hugely regarded ensemble founded by David Moufang two decades ago, featuring techno pioneer Jamie Hodge, Deep Space Network’s Jonas Grossmann, acclaimed jazz guitarist Gunter Ruit Kraus and, most intriguingly - Karl Berger (Jazz Pianist and Vibraphone player for Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry and George Clinton to name but three).
Earprints was recorded in 2000 and followed their acclaimed self-titled debut album from 1996 (a record hailed by The Wire magazine as worthy of comparison to Miles Davis’ ‘In A Silent Way’) - and this time round the ensemble were accompanied by Andrew Pekler, Anna-Lena Fiedler, Burkhard Höfler, and Kai Kroker, among many others.
Together, they flesh out a full-frequency spectrum of instrumental and electronic timbres, precisely yet louchely coalescing a timeless and cool blue sound that is entirely respectful to its roots, yet dares to imagine them in an altered context. In that respect it’s an influential, memorable precursor to Jan Jelinek’s acclaimed Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records that was released the following year.
Democratic in its construction and flush with pregnant, contemplative space between and around the notes, the lasting impression made by Earprints is indelibly classic, quietly awaiting immersion by a new wave of listeners who will no doubt marvel at its deep, layered charms. In other words - if you ain't familiar with this one - get acquainted.
Lee Gamble’s UIQ welcomes Sim Hutchins to the hyperprism with Vantablank Stare, an insightful A/V project born from a personal discontent with the vacuous repetition of 24 hour rolling news coverage, and presenting a critical response to, in his own words; “the daily bombardment of news items on corruption and our societal inclination to be ‘in the know’ about current affairs”.
Aesthetically, the EP’s three tracks of roiling post-junglism and fractured dub techno tessellations most acutely recall the tumbling designs of N1L and Lanark Artefax 12”s but, its conceptual drive is closer to Sam Kidel’s Disruptive Muzak in the way it extracts from current socio-political issues ubiquitous to nearly all our lives, and especially for anyone living in the UK right now.
The dissection of its subject is most literal in the accompanying video, presenting stark, stock CGI representations of those coldly contemporary news studios that we’ve all seen too much of in recent times, with accompanying banners ribboning fake “statements” and “breaking news” that, on first glance, are almost indistinguishable from the ‘real’ thing, yet coolly subvert the text to their own end, exposing its function as a tool for public control.
However, the music is less literal and more elusive, abstract and metaphorical, using samples of radio waves, covert signals and intercepted E-Comms as the raw material for an impressionistic tussle of invisible forces, translating as head-stretching recursive phase shifts and disembodied jungle structures in Some Men (you) Just Want to Watch the World Burn and as an allegory for passive, anxious textural attrition in Nescience Is Not Ignorance on the A-side, whilst the B-side unfurls a knottier tract of warped, quicksilver dub techno with Some Men (me) Just Want to Let the World Burn, which, you’ll notice, contrasts with the title of the A-side, and lays bare the artist’s paradoxical dilemma; highlighting the difference between disrupting the system and sitting back and waiting for its inevitable demise.
Giuseppe Ielasi (Inventing Masks, Bellows) & Giovanni Marco Civitenga’s Rain Text yield this lovely suite of willowing keys and hushed house rustles on Bedouin’s Bastikaya Tapes following the duo’s warmly received 2016 début with Skyapnea Records.
2 teases out Rain Text’s charmingly woolly and drizzly sound in four new tracks, quietly getting into gear with the icy piano notes and dust-mite dance of 2.1, before twisting off the bone into bendier, viscous electro-dub in a style only shades away from Ielasi’s Bellows gear, but with ruggeder appeal for the ‘floor,
Flipside, the vibe gets more inclement with the minor key chords and brittle wooden drum hits of 2.3 resembling an imagined groggy collab between Pole and Burial c. 2002, and 2.4 drifts off on a more wistful bent with sliding loops bringing a sense of sun coming after the rain.
Ryuichi Sakamoto & Alva Noto’s soundtrack to Alejandro G Iñárrritu’s The Revenant is one of the most haunting we’ve heard in years. It should be filed in that rarest category - OSTs which are both inseparable from the imagery they drive, and which also stand tall on their own...
Following Iñárrritu’s use of Sakamoto’s music in Babel (2006), the Japanese composer was commissioned to write this full score but, owing to the fact that he was was in recovery from throat cancer, he opted to bring regular collaborator Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto)on board alongside The National’s Bryce Dessner to realise the vast scale of the project.
They’ve doubtless done a sterling job, exemplifying a minimalist mantra of saying-it-without-saying-it where so many other composers tend to erect huge emotive signposts reading “FEEL SAD…. NOW” or “ROOOOMANCE!!!!!”.
Whether frosting Emmanuel Lubezki’s widescreen cinematography with a nail-biting timbre, or looming behind the close-ups on a ravaged Di Caprio, the effect of Sakamoto’s sweeping string gestures and Alva Noto’s electronic auroras is beautifully, subtly intangible yet breathtaking.
After decades in the making Finders Keepers present the first-ever pressing of Serge Gainsbourg’s most elusive and coveted soundtrack studio recordings – co-written, arranged and orchestrated by the genius Jean-Claude Vannier (Histoire De Melody Nelson) during what many consider to be the dynamic duo’s most definitive creative period.
Its the first time on vinyl for this previously unreleased Gainsbourg/Vannier soundtrack to a saucy, psychedelic gallic classic starring Jane Birkin and Gainsbourg in leading roles. Interesting for its forays into traditional sub-continental styles, and one track of heavy petting, alongside the usual Gainsbourgian string arrangements and smoky winks.
Believed to have been lost in a studio fire by Gainsbourg enthusiasts for over forty years (a myth that also shrouds Morricone’s lost Danger Diabolik soundtrack) the misplaced master-tapes for the drug-fuelled/Mai 68 cash-in/road-movie Les Chemins De Katmandou have been widely considered the final audio jigsaw piece in an immaculate discography/filmography thus earning this soundtrack bone-fide Holy Grail status amongst the most avid disc detectives.
Featuring the original crack team of Paris based players now recognised as French library music royalty, this LP epitomises the inimitable musical direction and expert psychedelic pop musicianship that graced classic Gainsbourg/Vannier soundtracks like La Horse, Cannabis and Sex Shop. Laying the stylistic, future-proof foundations for subsequent decades of forward-thinking Gallic funk mastery. Comprising Vannier’s signature recipe of thick plucked bass lines, close-micced drums, biting Clavinet and Eastern influenced strings and percussion (and a sprinkling of subtle traditional French instrumentation) the soundtrack to Les Chemins De Katmandou (aka The Road To Katmandu or The Pleasure Pit) captures Vannier and Gainsbourg in the first year of their creative partnership capturing their unique embryonic energy.”
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.
Space Afrika spool out a 2nd collection of frayed, intimate house and ambient electronics for Where To Now? following 'Above The Concrete / Below The Concrete' (2014).
The four tracks on 'Primrose Avenue' distill a decayed, narcotic strain of house from elements of NYC garage swing, Berlin dub house and that Manc-y basement aesthetic, all shaded in deep delphic tones and ferric clag..
'Contemplation' opens with a phasing grey skied ambient panorama, giving way to the gritted Fred P-style gait of 'Resolutions' and setting a poised midnight momentum that carries thru the blunted swang of 'The Way Home' and the dawning, bittersweet morning-after vibes of 'The Sudden Walk'.
DJ Nigga Fox goes hard on the heels of Nidia Minaj and CDM with his 2nd 12" for the amazing Príncipe label.
Pushing arguably the most exciting dance sound in the world right now, Rogério Brandão aka DJ Nigga Fox is all about sinuous rhythms and mad technoid sounds, coiling the legacy of Angolan and Congolese drum patterns with up-to-date electronics in the styles known as Batida, Tarraxinha, Funana, Kuduro. They're dynamite on the 'floor, wrecking a body between the triplet techno tumble of 'Um Ano' and the incendiary builds and twysting vortices of 'Apocalipsiii' on the A-side, before running the wildest acid breakbeat torque with 'Tio Kiala' and bringing it right down with the sensuous Tarraxinha, 'De Leve'. Like everything else on the label, it's hugely collectable and a crucial addition to any outernational DJ's artillery.
If ever a phonographic accomplishment could encapsulate the precise modus operandi of Finders Keepers' Cacophonic label, then the ‘Expériences Musicales’ sessions made by French born painter, sculptor, music maker, wine merchant and founder of the Art Brut movement Jean Dubuffet would be a prime candidate.
"Originally released as an impossibly rare six record box set containing Dubuffet’s first long anticipated forays into sound sculpture and spontaneous artistic noise, these intimate early 1960’s recordings show a lesserknown side of this important artist’s personality. From an original promoted artefact (which can now command fees of up to 5000 Euros complete with its original art-prints intact) this highlighted version of ‘Expériences Musicales’ is now available again on authentic vinyl to the wider public.
Finally released to a wider audience and presented complete with Dubuffet’s signature style artwork, this abridged vinyl edition includes specific selections curated by the artist himself, in conjunction with experimental music pioneer Ilhan Mimaroglu."
Music For Installations’ is a collection of new, rare and previously unreleased music, all of which was recorded by Brian Eno for use in his installations covering the period from 1986 until the present (and beyond). Over this time, he has emerged as the leading exponent of “generative” music worldwide and is recognised as one of the foremost audio-visual installation artists of his time.
"Eno's recordings and other collaborations are endless and endlessly known, however his visual experiments with light and video covers an even longer span of time and have been exhibited all over the globe - from the Venice Biennale to the Marble Palace in St. Petersburg, from Beijing’s Ritan Park to the Sydney Opera House. Eno's installations are the fertile ground from which so much of his other work has grown and continue to parallel his musical career. Music For Installations is a collection of these original recordings from installations with new and unreleased work covering the period from 1986 until the present and beyond. 50% of the music contained in the box set has never been available in any format and the rest has only ever had very limited CD release direct to consumer release."
Doris Norton was Apple's first music "endorsement" and Roland affiliate, and is one of the most important female pioneers in the use of synths and in the early electro / computer music field. ‘Personal Computer’ showcases some computer game-style workouts along with some really canny cuts in the tricksy metrics of ‘Caution Radiation Norton and the psychedelic wig-out ‘A.D.A. Converter’...
“In 1980, Norton began her solo career by recording at Fontana Studio 7, the Milan studio of the composer and musician Tito Fontana, resulting in the electronic opera "Under Ground". Norton became more prolific, continuing her adventures in experimental electronics and computer music with Parapsycho (1981), Raptus (1981), Nortoncomputerforpeace (1983), PC (1984) – whose album cover prominently features Apple’s colored logo – and Artificial Intelligence (1985).
While the beat-oriented style of Norton’s music aligns her with such global fellow-travelers as Yellow Magic Orchestra and Kraftwerk, her championing of the personal computer as a tool for self-sufficient musical creativity also connects her to more artsy musicians such as Pietro Grossi, Laurie Spiegel, and the League of Automatic Music Composers. Norton’s predilection for the bright, glossy timbres of early digital instruments also recalls Hubert Bognermayr and Harald Zuschrader’s bizarre 1982 one-off Erdenklang.
Later, her talent and expertise attracted the attention of IBM, who in 1986 named her as an official consultant. Already the reigning queen of the Italian electronic scene, she recorded two CDs for IBM: Automatic Feeling and The Double Side Of The Science. Influenced by her son, the musician and producer Rexanthony, Norton brought her fascination with the early days of techno into the 1990s, when she released three volumes of Techno Shock on Italian trance/hardcore label Sound Of The Bomb.
While her music remains largely out of print and inaccessible, Norton’s early records have recently begun to receive the inevitable rediscovery treatment.
"In the late sixties I had already conceived computers as “personal.” I have always trusted in the benefits of solitude; [being] alone means freedom… What’s better than a “personal” computer for materializing ideas, by oneself" (Doris Norton)”
Japanese composer/demi-god Ryuichi Sakamoto presents an exquisitely oneiric and elusively spiritual new album inspired as much by the sound sculptures of Harry Bertoia as the magic of Andrei Tarkovsky’s seminal septet of celluloid classics.
It’s been some years since Sakamoto has placed his name at the top of a solo album proper - as opposed to his swathes of collaborations and film scores - and we can promise that the results herein are definitely worth the wait.
Imagined and realised after a period of fright with his health, Async captures Mr. Sakamoto at his most wistful and wonderful, meditating on the existentialist, ontological themes and atmospheres of Tarkovsky’s work from both a gauzily impressionistic aspect, and a quite literal one, employing readings of Tarkovsky’s poetry (poem transcribed in the liner notes) in a variety of languages from a coterie of contemporaries including long time collaborators David Sylvian, Bernardo Bertolucci (for whom he composed the OST for The Last Emperor) and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), among others.
Embracing both the fluidity and flux of Tarkovsky’s water analogies as well as the harmonic chaos of Harry Bertoia’s lush metal rod clangour, Sakamoto melds feather touch acoustic keys with field recordings, shimmering electronic patinas and signature synthesiser flourishes in a suite that beautifully lives up to and even transcends its influences, revealing some of the most achingly emotive yet often abrasive and abstract work in a catalogue now spanning over 40 years of exemplary work.
Beyond maybe Scott Walker, we can hardly think of another artist who has continued to expand their oeuvre over such a long period of time, and with an appeal quite like this, albeit respectively unique to their work. But Sakamoto really is in a league of his own here, utterly absorbing us with the dappled keys, organ haze and stereo starting doom synths of Andata, thru the stark Sonambient emulations of Disintegration to the romance of ZURE and the almost Toshiya Tsunoda-esque sensitivity of his field recordings woven into Walker or Honj, with humbling moments to be discovered in the switch from disorienting cinematic dialogue in Fullmoon to the legit Ligeti style violence of Async, and again in the curdled chromatics of FF and the Gas-eous swells swirling about Garden.
Music From Memory present a gorgeous, spiked, fuzzy peach of a compilation focused on the unsung downtown NYC dude whose only solo album inspired the label's moniker. Drawn from a handful of rare cassettes and the aforementioned LP, 'I Was Crossing A Bridge' fathoms oceanic, phasing string drifts alongside pulsing minimal drum computer workouts, avant-garde sound poems and unplaceable cinematic synth scenes; framing a widescreen sonic vision that was richly and inevitably informed by its proximity to the locus of punk, jazz and experimental music circa 1983-1985. During this period he worked with luminary musicians such as Rashied Ali, Byard Lancaster, Peter Zummo and Yousef Yancey, and participated in a range of performances - from spoken word to punk shows at CBGB's and The Mudd Club. And, in the best sense, he transmuted all that experience into a idiosyncratic sound perhaps best considered in terms of No wave's anything goes aesthetic yet guided by a meditative sensibility clear to hear in the shimmering zither flock of 'Deep Felt Music' or the melancholy synth inquisition, 'Inferno - Part 3', whilst the ruddy boogie groove of 'I'm At That Party Right Now' and the corkscrewing electro-funk swerve of 'Cross-Court (Get It)' prove he was anything but po-faced. Fans of Arthur Russell or K. Leimer's more experimental works are bound to fall hard for this set - a huge recommendation!
Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
The Jealous Gods conscript Varg for their 17th number, harnessing his esteemed Scando techno energies in four hardcore, pounding missiles under the title of I’ll Hold You Till We Die.
A-side hurts the best with a pair of robust 140bpm bangers, getting into gear with the tense electro of For Milan/AMG and dispensing a proper bollocking with the stampeding groove of Skrrt (Music made To Listen To In A RS6).
Turn over and he drops the tempos slightly to go in with a class party piece in Donatella Forever and then the soaring hard techno élan of Last dance (I’ll Hold You Till We Die).
Elysia Crampton’s eponymous opus - their 4th official album - is a peerless study in sonic ontology, exerting a psychedelic spin on notions of roots & future in a studiously conscious and intricately woven yet immediate manner that’s core to Elysia’s oeuvre. We’re really feeling this one; reckon you might, too
“Dedicated to Ofelia aka Carlos Espinosa, china* travesti revolutionary (*femme in Aymara). Elysia Crampton’s self-titled album marks her 4th official release.
The Amerindian musician draws on various Andean styles such as kullawada, huayño, tarqueada, quirqui / tundique, khantus, & morenada, together with genres like metal, psychedelic, & jazz fusion, to tell a story of her movement in the world— performing her history, both sonically & corporeally, as a means to gain economic access & agency.
With this album, Crampton further situates her work within a long Aymaran musical legacy* that implicates cultures & sites beyond the Andes (following trajectories of dispersion through the literal migration & interaction of bodies & in the circulation of Aymaran concepts, images, music & goods via the world market after the conquest).
Building upon the ancient notion that Aymara culture is something sustained through movement & contact with others (recall the 'S' meander sign in Andean art) rather than soley being defined in stasis, segregation & linear time, Crampton's work retains the sensation of a belonging in spite of its so-called promiscuity, continually carrying a sense of origin amidst constant motion, which from a Aymara relation to space-time (nayrapacha or 'past' related to the ocular & resides in front) is an origin that also lies ahead, not only behind.
*This legacy extends well before 900 B.C., but one should note that it was particularly during the mid twentieth century (60s & 70s) that Aymara musicians began building the agency to travel the world themselves (their culture or "cosmovision" had already reached Europe through the expansion of the Spanish market as early as the mid-sixteenth century, informing the European imaginary before the French Revolution), performing their identities through music & dress for audiences in countries like Japan, France, & The United States. It was this movement that would shape not only the national identities of countries like Peru & Bolivia, but would also become the definitive sound of so-called world music today (while shaping other globalized genres like "new age”)”
Mick Harris launches a snarling breakbeat techno assault on L.I.E.S. as Fret with the Silent Neighbour EP in the wake of his destructive Over Depth album on Karl Records, and some 23 years since the OG Fret 12” on Downwards’ Resonance sublabel.
Where that original Fret 12” differed from Harris usual output in terms of its space and relative minimalism, the current Fret sound incorporates more typical Mick Harris tropes, working a dense and noisy roil in Silent Neighbour, and a crushing industrial dub lurch on List Is Full, while Same Pegs unleashes a furnace blast of hellish noise techno figures, and Closed Syndicate does its thing with ravishing force.
Oake really find their gothic muse in debut album, 'Auferstehung' for Downwards.
Firmly building on the foundations of two shadowy 12"s released in 2013, the duo distill and transcend their influences across eleven stations of unrepentant gothic histrionics and industrial techno prostration. The production is now right up there with the detailed, excoriating levels of The Haxan Cloak, and also matching the rhythmic heft of label-mate Samuel Kerridge (with whom they recently formed the UF collusion), but with a kohl-eyed romanticism all of their own creation.
From the swooning black metal/shoegaze signatures and blast beats of entrance, 'Vorwort: Umiha Sien' we're manipulated with the near-religiose levels of mysticism, vacillating between shorter, doomy 'Kapital' invocations and the blasted sound of bellicose/ecstatic congregation in 'Erstes Buch: Desterieh l'Remm' to the eulogistic sludge metal drones of 'Fuenftes buch: Dreloi Wechd' and the stygian trudge of 'Sechstes Buch: Rehmin Sicht', departing with the widescreen epic, 'Siebstes Buch: Drestan Sened'. RIYL Scott Walker & Sunn 0))), Sam Kerridge, Swans.
Brusque, Ballardian EBM techno and industrial clangers from Oliver Ho in his Broken English Club style.
The A-side’s Accidents & Romance clamps down with rottie-toothed 16th note synth snarls and back-breaking kicks whilst the owner chats like a man possessed, somewhere above the escalating madness.
B-side, Country Life bucks up some recoiling and lustrous EBM funk that burns on contact, backed with a descent into crushing industrial torpor with Private Death.