Repress of Walhalla Records’ class 2nd volume of Underground Belgian Wave rarities, all making their vital first appearance on vinyl, mostly a generation after their original release on some of Belgium’s hardest-to-find tapes.
Volume 2 is perhaps bets known for including the nifty Berntholer rarity Toys, and also features some big highlights in the likes of Autumns’ slippery synth-pop bubbler Synthesise, and two bullets from almost-rans Tangible Joy, namely the rocket fuel of Move and the swirling disco jakbeat Some Say I’m Drunk (But I’m Only In Love), alongside Eliza Waut’s etheric beauty Summary Of All My Dreams.
If you’ve been following Minimal Wave, Dark Entries, Mannequin Records, or STROOM 〰 in recent years, you need to check this one ,too.
Jay Glass Dubs returns with this plate of new, original material channelling Greek pop and echoes of classic 4AD soused in distress and flipped in dub...properly good, perhaps the best yet from Dimitris Papadatos.
Jay Glass Dubs sublimates Athenian distress and ennui into plasmic dub ether on ‘Plegnic’, his lushly evolved first collection of new material for Ecstatic, following from their acclaimed, 2LP ‘Dubs’ set of his earliest, hard-to-find tape releases, Deconstructing and rebuilding Jamaican dub with musique concrete production methods and a lingering air of inspiration from classic 4AD, new age and Laïko, or Greek popular music, Jay Glass Dubs fascinatingly evolves his sound with richer melodic and harmonic arrangements in a concerted effort to bridge and expand the nostalgic, esoteric and dancefloor dimensions of his unique sound world.
The key to the record lies in its title, ‘Plegnic’; an extinct word meaning “to strike like a hammer”, as well as its palpable sense of nostalgia. In this archaic context, JGD uses vintage machines and obsolete samples into junction with vocals from Yorgia Karidi - sound artist and coincidentally former beau of his childhood neighbour, and Andreas Kassapis one of his oldest friends, who provides the cover art - to conjure a strikingly new, mutated take on classic and well-trodden styles; metaphorically and anachronistically renewing their purpose while connoting his newfound dancefloor drive in the process.
Recording took place at his mother’s house in the Athens suburbs, with Fugazi’s ‘Steady Diet of Nothing’ on repeat. It was here that he dug out an old Juno, a Yamaha RX5 drum computer, and some “…crappier equipment” that provides the structural scaffold to his array of nostalgic, melancholic Laïka samples, which could be considered the ghost in the shell or the diffused soul of this superb five part crop.
On the A-side he sets out to spook with the desiccated, teetering steppers motion of ‘Temple Dub’ featuring heavily processed vox by Yorgia Karidi but the heady nostalgia takes over with a sublime tactility in the vaulted chorales and endless reverb tails of ‘Umbro Dub’, and again in the aching sehnsucht of ‘Mouthless Dub’, where traces of Laïka’s bouzouki melodies most beautifully glimmer thru.However, the B-side is far more upfront and up-for-it, firstly putting his weight behind the cranky skank of ‘Dry Dub’ with its hexagonal drums and acidic bass squirm, then in the super squashed swagger of ‘Fearless Dub’, a near 10 minute long pinnacle of his dancefloor output to date.
Ultimately Jay Glass Dubs’ music is riddled with the kind of nostalgia that can make an unfamiliar piece of music feel like an intense déjà entendu, like you’ve heard it before in a dream or some altered state. That’s a rare and precious thing.
Between the three artists involved here, Linkwood, Fudge Fingas and Bacon Rolls, are enough ideas, samples and restless dancefloor energy to fuel a small city if only someone could work out a way to harness such a thing.
If you've heard the other two 10"s in the series you'll know what to expect, if not, it's probably the most potent brew of funk, soul, disco, house and even electro this side of Moodymann and has rightfully found a spot in the box of everyone from Gilles Peterson to Derrick May since it's initial release in 2005. Well fun*ed.
‘Metal Aether’ showcases Lea Bertucci's role as a performer, revealing four pieces that represent approximately 3 years of ideas and gestures for alto saxophone and magnetic tape. Expanding on 2014’s ‘Light Silence, Dark Speech’ as well as 2015’s ‘Axis/Atlas,’ ‘Metal Aether’ develops a language of extended technique for alto saxophone that is based on a spectral, psychoacoustic, and non-linguistic approach to the instrument.
"Much like the recordings of her previous NNA release, ‘Metal Aether’ continues to explore Lea’s acute interest in the nature of acoustics and the harmonic accumulation of sound, with it’s four pieces having been recorded in Le Havre, France in a former military base, and in New York City, at ISSUE Project Room. With her horn, Lea produces pulsing minimalist patterns, transcendent drones, and upper register squalls that envelop these spaces in waves of overtones, microtones, and psychoacoustic effects. Tracks like “Accumulations” explore evocative, ancient-sounding melodic figures, while tracks like “Sustain and Dissolve” relish in the microtonal relationships between overlapping sustained notes. Aside from the saxophone, Bertucci further interacts with physical space by fortifying these pieces with manipulated field recordings from diverse locations, ranging from Mayan pyramids to NYC subways. Other instruments such as prepared piano and vibraphone can be heard on this album, processed through tape to unite melody and texture together as one. Lea displays a firm grasp of the inherent possibilities of sound manipulation to maximize her music’s power through the recording process itself, mixing conflicting fidelities to achieve a deeper, more organic form of expression.
Throughout 2017, Lea fully dedicated her creative efforts toward exploring and informing her music through a variety of disciplines. In addition to recording ‘Metal Aether,’ she wrote and performed during multiple residencies, toured rigorously throughout North America and Europe, organized site-specific sonic events with the SITE:SOUND series, and published her first book “The Tonebook,” a collection of graphic scores by 17 avant-garde composers. Through these endeavors, Lea immerses herself in the essential principles of true musicianship: study, performance, curation, literature, and experimentation. It is with these tools that she connects herself with sound in all of it’s forms – live, recorded, situational, natural, and unnatural. All of these elements come together to inform the pieces found on this album, creating a sophisticated, multi-faceted, and highly personal body of work. ‘Metal Aether’ feels like the defining statement from an artist in elevated control of their form – a summary of concepts, ideas, and emotions given life from one’s mind and heart. Lea demonstrates the desirable ability to use her art to sincerely communicate in a language of one’s own personal
Supersilent maestro Arve Henriksen yields a proper release of his haunting suite, ‘The Height of the Reeds’, originally commissioned for a sound walk over the Humber bridge in Hull. In its play of scale, scope, and its balance of quietly fraught tension and epic symphonic gestures, this one is another masterpiece in Arve’s huge oak cabinet...
“"The Height Of The Reeds" started as a commissioned work to the city of Hull, Great Britain´s cultural capital 2017. Composed by Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang, the work celebrates the longstanding seafaring relationship between Hull and Scandinavia. It was originally the musical companion to a sound walk that took place in April, May and June 2017.
Those who took part could listen to the music on headphones while crossing the Humber Bridge. Initially intended for April only, the arrangement proved so popular it ended up with selling out three months, a total of 15.000 tickets. This beautifully evocative music can now be experienced through this release, where only minor adjustments have been done to justify the transition from sound walk to album. It´s an exquisite addition to Arve Henriksen´s large and fast growing discography, and sits perfectly well with his popular Jan Bang contributions "Chiaroscuro" (2004) and "Places Of Worship" (2013).”
Almost exactly a year since his first EP on Byrd Out (the Kiyadub EP), Andrew Weatherall returns with new material for a second release.
"Andrew invited a mate round to his studio to try out a Les Paul his friend was looking to buy. As it turns out, his mate was Ride's (and Oasis') guitarist Andy Bell. Anyway, Andrew suggested he test the guitar out over a track he was working on, and `Making Friends With The Invader' is the resulting track, which Andrew paired with the EP's title track `Blue Bullet'.
Both tracks plough the trippy, cosmic dub furrow, and come in at a weighty 8 and 9 minutes plus."
'Control / Applications' is a split release born out of Amsterdam's warehouse scene, fusing together electro matrix rhythms, IDM, with warped hums and breaks used by dancers and performers heading up the rave.
"With a track on our Future Works III comp last year, this is his debut record on the label: a release challenging superstructures buried among the sweat particles of the floor."
Feat founding member of Sweet Exorcist and cabaret Voltaire, plus remixes from Daniel Miller and Lonelady...
"The lead remix is by Crooked Man (Richard Barratt aka Parrot) who started mixing drum machines and soul music in Sheffield 30-odd years when Stephen Mallinder was still in Cabaret Voltaire. He later became one half of Sweet Exorcist with Richard H Kirk - early pioneers of techno on Warp label - is a founding member of the band All Seeing I, works regularly with Roisin Murphy and is now creating forward looking house music for DFA Records.
Another new, previously unreleased track for this EP is LoneLady’s remix of ‘Space Ace’ from Wrangler’s debut album, LA Spark. The guitar and vocals are instantly recognisable on this collaboration which is their third together, following LoneLady (Julie Campbell) contributing guitars on Wrangler’s ‘Dirty’ (from second album, White Glue) and Wrangler remixing LoneLady’s ‘Bunkerpop’ from Campbell’s album of the same name. The other remix on the EP is Daniel’s Miller’s fantastic take on ‘Theme From Wrangler’ which has up to now only been available on the limited edition Wrangler album, Sparked."
Ólafur Arnalds' new record 're:member' features Ólafur’s new software, Stratus, which transforms the piano into a "unique new instrument".
"The Stratus Pianos are two self-playing, semi-generative player pianos which are triggered by a central piano played by Ólafur, and are the centrepiece of his new works. The custom-built software is born out of two years of work by the composer and audio developer, Halldór Eldjárn. The algorithms generated from Stratus were also used to create the innovative album artwork. On the album Ólafur uses these methods reinvigorate the compositional experience, feeding back into the creative process in a completely new way.
As Ólafur plays a note on the piano, two different notes are generated by Stratus, creating unexpected harmonies and surprising melodic sequences. Speaking of the album, Ólafur says, “This is my breaking out-of-a-shell album. It’s me taking the raw influences that I have from all these different musical genres and not filtering them. It explores the creative process and how one can manipulate that to get out of the circle of expectations and habit.”
Crepuscule presents a reissue of Crystal World , the debut album by Marnie, the moniker adopted by Ladytron lead singer Helen Marnie for her solo recordings.
"Recorded in Reykjavik, Iceland, Crystal World comprises ten original songs written by Marnie with Ladytron colleague Daniel Hunt. Focus track The Hunter was issued as a single in 2013 and subsequently remixed by Stephen Morris of New Order. “The Hunter is a rippling bit of Moroder by returning producer Hunt,” wrote Pitchfork. “Indeed Crystal World is for all intents and purposes the sixth Ladytron album.”
In fact the sixth Ladytron album is due later in 2018. Meanwhile Crystal World remains a stylish, slow-burn bestseller praised as an “ice-cool selection of shimmering nouveau synth-pop and frosty ballads” by The List, and “gorgeous and delectably glacial” by The Electricity Club.
Frequently Marnie laments the sea, itself so suggestive of change and movement, a feeling which ebbs and flows across the record, luring the listener in despite the gathering emotional storm. Focus track The Hunter was issued as a download single in May 2013. Hearts On Fire is another dark anthem with a pop chorus that builds until it's close. Venturing further into Crystal World, Submariner is a fragile tale to warm the coldest of hearts, while closing track Gold inspires just the right amount of melancholy, at the same time ending with soaring guitars and synths and an immense feeling of hope."
Growing up as a teenager in East London, break-dancing and writing graffiti with B12’s Mike Golding, Steve Pickton’s AKA Stais musical education moved along a familiar path, from hip-hop to Electro and onto Techno.
"Schooling himself in music theory and purchasing a sampler Pickton set about making his own music. Releasing on a whose who of seminal UK electronic labels including A.R.T., Likemind, Otherworld and B12 under various pseudonyms Pickton’s UK take on lush Detroit melodies fused techno, funk, hip-hop, dub, blues and jazz into a dense concoction all of his own making. Re-issued for the first time since its initial release in 1993 Circuit Funk Pickton’s debut release on Peacefrog is packed full of lush Detroit melodics and future funk that still sounds unique and fresh today."
Recorded at the same Rainbow Studio sessions, and with the same top musicians and legendary engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug, this can only be seen as a rightful twin companion to "The Nature Of Connections" from 2014.
"One can easily understand how Arve must have found it difficult to select tracks for "The Nature Of Connections", leaving these on the shelf. "Composograph" is standing rock solid as a top notch Arve Henriksen album. Interestingly enough, the track "Gathering In Vågå" features Arve on rather brilliant, freeflowing saxophone (for the first time on record?).
There are the typical folk music ties, courtesy of fiddlers Nils Økland and Gjermund Larsen, contemporary chamber jazz, nods to avant free music and atmospheric tone poems. All in all, twelve exquisite originals from one of the world´s leading trumpet players."
Founding member and co-creator of ‘Aiwo rec.‘ DJ Normal 4 delivers Second Circle’s eleventh release to date with the EP ‘Exoticz’ .
"Raised close to Düsseldorf in the Ruhr Area, Normal 4 grew up amongst a landscape of dusty factory skeletons and abandoned machine complexes in a formerly thriving industrial conglomerate. Bringing his signature sound of broken industrial dreams mixed with escapist rave fantasies, Normal 4 delves into the archives with two tracks ‘Kalaidoka’ and ‘Aeo’ recorded around 2011/2012, alongside a new track ‘La Arabia’.
Produced at Altstadt Studio Mülheim an der Ruhr, with Normal 4’s good friend Anke Preuß on guitar and vocals, ‘Aeo’ is given the remix treatment by Phillip Otterbach on the ‘Aeo (Ottertasia Mix)’. On the B side the synth freak out ‘Kalaidoka’ is followed by ‘La Arabia’ which rides the breaks into a dusty moonlit desert rave."
Redinho returns to the funky fray on Roya following turns as Sweet Shop Boys with Riz MC
Reprising the forward R&B flex of his early 12”s for Numbers, he fires up what sounds like a fiyah Destiny’s Child remix with the tight R&B drums and ratchet synth burn of ‘Mmm Mmm’, then shows off his signature talkbox skills alongside Tweet-like vox on the future soul slickness of ‘Square 1’.
Handcrafted and remastered 2LP edition of Move D's seminal masterpiece. Originally released on Source Records in 1994, then on CCO and now reissued by AVA. Records in 2018.
"All tracks recorded by David Moufang at reSource Studio in 1994, except: "Sandman", recorded at the Blue Room in 1992, "Trist" recorded at Future Planet in 1994 (co-produced by strange Michael), "Seven" recorded at reSource Studio in 1993.
Armchair photographed by Gabi Kaiser, Lossen Foto Heidelberg. Arrangement and variations by Move D, Cebra and Env. Artwork re-creation by Damiano von Erckert for AVA. Records.
Thanks to Juri Bader, Patrick Forgacs, Götz Gramlich, Denise, Dan, Louis and Pete."
Brendon Moeller offers up his ‘Set In Motion’ EP on Echocord sub-label Echo Echo, comprising three originals from the Dub Techno veteran.
New York based producer and DJ Brendon Moeller aka Beat Pharmacy/Echologist has long been respected as one of the pioneering figures in ethereal, dubbed-out Techno with regular appearances at global hot spots like fabric, Berghain and Cielo as well as releases on labels like Third Ear, Kimochi, Neovinyl and Echocord. Here though we see Moeller joining the roster of the latter’s sublabel Echo Echo, marking its fourth release.
Title-track ‘Set In Motion’ leads with Brendon’s signature murky synth textures at its core whilst lumpy low-end tones, shuffled hats and spiraling dub echoes fluidly undulate amongst one another throughout. ‘Eastern Beach’ follows, and as the name would suggest, nods towards brighter sounds with airy pads, soft bell chime synths and pulsating subs driving the composition alongside swinging, heavily reverberated percussion. ‘Economy’ then closes the package, stripping things back to gritty dub stabs, dusty 4/4 drums and billowing noise sweeps."
Excellent, overcast atmospheric electronic pressure systems from Iranian artist Siavash Amini.
“After 2017's Tar', Foras is Iranian sound artist Siavash Amini's second album for the Hallow Ground and his sixth solo album in only six years. The four tracks see him returning to his singular approach that blends harsh electronic noise with lush granular synthesis and classical compositional techniques. Over the course of roughly 38 minutes, the album navigates between different and at times seemingly contradictory moods, thus mirroring its underlying concept. Foras explores how individual sorrow relates to and is triggered by space.
Similar to what the late theorist Mark Fisher has dubbed the "eerie," the LP focuses on how landscapes and buildings connect to and transform the inside world and thus the psychological experience. May it be by passing through a space haunted by collective memories of loss or tragedy, or by means of interpersonal dialogue, or even a memory of such events in each individual's mind elaborates Amini on the starting points from which Foras dives further and further into the darkness. It is no surprise then that the incredibly lush soundscapes of Foras evoke distance as much as depth.”
Ital Tek re-emerges with ‘Bodied’, his 6th album of sci-fi electronic scaping, with an increasing emphasis on the sci-fi part, and more sparing, spacious use of rhythm. make sure to check for highlights in the escalating energy of ‘Hymnal’, the teetering sound design of ‘Lithic’, and the staggered fulminations of ‘Bodied’
“Ital Tek's 'Bodied' is the follow up to his acclaimed 2016 album 'Hollowed'. Stepping in a different direction from that album, It’s as if Hollowed's detailed world has been fleshed out and filled with the spectre of human voices.
As on his last album, the sounds on 'Bodied' are highly designed, but this time barely a whisper of dance music remains. Instead it's built around acoustic elements and ghostly choral arrangements, refracted and transformed into atmospheric, alien forms which are given the time to settle and transform. Rhythm is used only as a tool to give his world a sense of dark, mechanical momentum.
Alan explains; "After completing 'Hollowed' I had over a year away from writing any of my own material. I was working, composing music for a video game and a number of different projects. I needed to find a way back in and I rediscovered the joy of music being a release as opposed to a job. I was getting up really early and sketching out lots of ideas very fast, squeezing in quick bursts of writing at the beginning or end of long studio day spent working on other musical projects."
"It was important for me to define the world that the album was going to inhabit before taking it any further, so I put a much greater focus into the sound design and palette than I had before. I wanted to make the music sound very physical, geometric, and monolithic, as if it inhabited a physical space."
"On 'Bodied' the music focuses on the interplay between the minuscule and the vast, beauty and brutalism. With this album I was much more concerned with dynamics and the discipline of holding tension; the use of space and silence to provide a counterpoint to the intensity."
"Most importantly, I was keen for there to be a human acoustic foundation, so I did a lot of live recording of cello, violin, harp and guitar - anything I could get my hands on. I was certain that I wanted there to be a greater vocal presence - nothing lyrical or at the forefront but to give it an underlying organic quality - to impart some humanity into the music."
As Ital Tek moves further from his roots, he's creating new sounds and spaces in which his music can exist. It's up to the listener to decide what kind of world 'Bodied' evokes, but it's certainly one that's beautiful and rewarding to spend time in.”
Written and recorded live in the Invada studios...
"Showcasing the lyrical side of Beak>, ‘Brean Down’ sounds as though Nirvana are gatecrashing a Bronx B-Boy mconvention. ‘Brean Down’ is the first single taken from the band’s forthcoming third album ‘>>>’."
London’s Toma Kami brings some serious drums to his debut platter for Livity Sound following a strong of self-released 12”s on Man Band Rec.
On ‘Sharp Tool In The Shed’ he deftly churns up a polyrhythmic fuss for 2 minutes before calving away into sparking electro-funk at full wingspan, whereas ‘Land Of The Insane’ grubs around at slower tempo with swingeing woodblock drums and piquant synth arps in super colourful tessellation.
This is really good; a first taster of Factory Floor's score to Fritz Lang’s 1927 masterpiece Metropolis; with a surprisingly assymetric take on New Beat on the A-side's Transform, and a slowed down, pulsing charmer on the flip sounding something like a more angular take on HTRK. This is the second reease on Factory Floor's own imprint H/O/D Records.
"Transform, a section inspired by Maria's transformation from human into the robot, reveals itself in a haze of accumulating ambience and scattered percussion that evolves into the heavy repetitive bass groove reassuringly stabilizes Maria's journey into metamorphosis.
The slow tempo and atmospheric wash of synths and electronics on side B 'Wonder' offering a hesitant hush contrast."
Kromestar runs amok on two lethal remixes of Pinch classics
The dread trial swagger of ‘The Boxer’ is amped to wide-eyed and ravenous degrees on the ‘Southpaw remix’, while the shutting half step of ‘Swish’ comes on noisier, raging and unrelenting.
Third in the 'Diving Bird' series from Andy Mac for Idle Hands.
"The third in the series sees Mac draw on Highlife and Dub influences.The A side leads off with 'Sketch 3' a rough hewn House track with live elements while 'Dancehall Style' does what it says on the tin.
On the B side Acido's Dreesen and PST remix 'Longships' from Diving Bird #1 into a hypnotic and subtley subby track with a Dub Techno feel."
Following that eye-opening box set on Vinyl On Demand and the crucial I Don't Remember Now / I Don't Want To Talk About It and Plaster Falling reissues, Superior Viaduct give life to John Bender’s third and final album Pop Surgery, recorded in 1982 and once again demonstrating Bender as one of the most inspiring discoveries of 1980’s sprawling wave scene.
"While all of Bender’s work draws from intimate home recordings—featuring the artist alone with various keyboards, analogue sequencers and tape delays—Pop Surgery remains the one that perhaps best distills his arrant deconstruction of the “pop” concept. These twelve frenetic tracks, meticulously stitched together with dubbed-out vocals and disjointed drum machines, stretch the boundaries of bedroom electronics.
Bender would forgo the handmade LP sleeves typical of his Record Sluts imprint. The cover depicts an imposing scrapyard crane, ready to pick up discarded objects with its bright red electromagnet, while the center labels détourn Columbia’s classic ’70s style.
“I pressed a single run of 500 copies,” Bender recounts. “The only review I remember railed at the poor production quality. The DIY era had clearly come to an end.”
Gorgeous ambient music. RIYL Satie, Elodie, AFX, Eno
First Meeting, as the title cannily suggests, forms a very welcome introduction to the wonderfully charming and expressive ambient music of Belgium’s Dominique Lawalree. Aye, we’ve never heard of him before, either. But he’s been recording since 1976, almost appeared on Brian Eno’s short-lived Obscure label and counts Gavin Bryars a long time friend and fan of his music, so consider this first-ever retrospective of his recordings as an essential catch-up.
Entirely drawn from self-released titles c. 1978-1982 on Lawalree’s Brussels-based Editions Walrus (what a name?!), First Meeting reveals a quietly sublime and intimately idiosyncratic sound in nine parts - so quiet and intimate in fact that we feel like a privileged fly on the high ceiling of his apartment studio, twitching our antenna whilst the baby-faced maestro sups an Orval and strokes his keys and synths into thee sweetest tapestries.
In the enlightening liner notes by Britton Powell, Lawalree’s music is perfectly described as “wallpaper; ornate and repetitive” when compared with the music of Satie and Eno, with whom he clearly shares an affinity for subtle and meditative musicality, but the distinction lies in the inherent surreality of his music and its ability to entice and encourage closer listening, where the others tend to be background or static.
There’s a beautiful nuance of consonance to his music that tantalises the ear with its warbling harmonic complexity and elegant pacing, yet it’s never challenging; always with a careful pop-ness that points to his equal appreciation of Satie, Feldman and Stockhausen as much as The Beatles or Led Zeppelin, the latter of whom he’s currently working on a series of books analysing their music second-by-second, and has led him to meetings with The Beatles’ engineer, Geoff Emerick, where he pointed out mistakes in the classic recordings which nobody else has ever noticed.
Ah this record is just a dream. Warmest recommendations.
Stunning retrospective of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’s devotional works collated from the private tape archive of the Avatar Book Institute. Seriously, this one's a proper head melter...
Luaka Bop commence a new series of releases themed around the global spiritual diaspora with this superb collection of rare devotional works from Alice Coltrane. Sure, everyone knows how great ‘Universal Consciousness’ (especially after that Superior Viaduct reissue from a few years back) but ‘The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’ hones in on a period of her life that is less widely-known.
Undoubtedly moved by the passing of her husband John Coltrane in 1967, Alice embarked on a spiritual reawakening that took her out of the public eye and culminated with the establishment of a 48-acre Sai Anantam Ashram in Malibu, California in 1983. This secluded ashram gave Coltrane the freedom to explore her spirituality through music unfettered, performing countless solo bhajans, and group kirtans and experimenting with them and synthesizers using the complex structures learnt from jazz.
These would soon form a series of cassette recordings that were privately distributed throughout the ashram community on Coltrane’s own Avatar Book Institute label. After some rather iffy, illicit vinyl editions of those tapes recorded off YouTube made the rounds, it’s good to hear this music in newly-remastered form from the original masters (by engineering legend Baker Bigsby, no less) on this Luaka Bop collection.
And how vibrant it sounds! There is clearly a vast intersection of styles at play throughout, interspersing the spiritual incantations of the Vedic devotional chants with some unique song structures and uplifting synthetic experiments. You can easily foresee the likes of Flo Po, Antal and Four Tet playing Oh Rama and Rama Guru, two of the more rhythmically-bound kirtans that act as spiritual jazz precursors to Detroit techno with illuminating synths that would make Carl Craig blush with envy. At other times, it is Coltrane’s voice which acts as the guiding force, orchestrating a wonderful harmonious call on Om Shanti.
Hopefully this is the prelude to a wider LB campaign of Alice Coltrane reissues from the Avatar Book Institute era.
Dream collaboration between Jonny Nash and likeminded ambient soul, Suzanne Kraft
Produced in 2016 and “in close proximity to the M56 Motorway”, which, weirdly enough, lulls me to sleep every night. We’d imagine that Passive Aggressive is intended to do the same thing, operating at such lowlit and hushed levels that it’s almost hard not to be seduced to slumber by its sandman tones.
It really is best consumed whole, but if you’ve got a shorter attention span or need some highlights, check for the deliciously off key tone of Small Town and the ambient jazz nocturne, Hanging Glass Structure and you’ll instantly know the vibe.
Broadly psychedelic compilation from Glasgow’s Invisble Inc., hopping styles from Italian cosmic disco to West Coast ambient experiments and myriad, dubby, dreamy styles betwixt
“Marking the 20th release on Invisible, Inc. is this special limited edition double-vinyl gatefold compilation featuring tracks from some of the most highly respected musicians of the last five decades.
The astonishingly diverse palette of styles comes courtesy of renowned ambient innnovator Laraaji, multi-Grammy Award-winning producer and ground-breaking synthesist and sound engineer Malcolm Cecil (in his Tonto's Expanding Head Band guise), Italian 'Cosmic Disco' pioneer and DJ Daniele Baldelli, avantgarde experimentalist K. Leimer, New York electro synth-pop legend Richard Bone (all five of whom have been active since the '70s or earlier) as well as dub techno locked groove aficionados log(m), West Coast psychedelic electronics maestro Secret Circuit, Berlin-based synthesist/composer Eva Geist plus a veritable "who's who" of some of the finest producers of ambient, dub, downtempo, leftfield and experimental electronica ever collected together on a single piece of wax (or two in this case): Baikonour, Sordid Sound System, Causa, Ulysses, Epsilove, Luv*Jam, Higamos Hogamos, Randweg, Bronze Savage, Komodo Kolektif, Bal5000 and Natural Sugars.
Eliciting a distinct sense of musical other-worldlyness, the title is perhaps more than just a nod to Philip K Dick's "Blade Runner" and hints at the idea that if these transmissions 'from beyond' are 'lost' they may in essence be more rooted in our distant past than in some science fiction future.
Putting needle to record, ancient rhythms and hypnotic mantras merge with synthesized soundscapes and deep basslines to propel us upward from the primeval forest floor into steady orbit before engaging the hyperspace drive on a trajectory deep into the Great Mystery.”
Caterina Barbieri binds cello, voice and Buchla 200 modular synth in sweeping electro-acoustic panoramas on ‘Born Again In The Voltage’, her 2nd solo LP with Important following the resoundingly captivating ‘Patterns Of Consciousness’ .
Recorded at EMS in Stockholm, ’Born Again In The Voltage’ is arguably the Berlin-based Italian’s most distinctive release yet, demonstrating a hard-nosed yet romantic approach to electro-acoustic music that stands out from her field in a way perhaps best compared with a more chaotic parallel to Alessandro Cortini or Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, while also echoing the probing, contemporary styles of her peers and collaborators such as Kali Malone and Ellen Arkbro.
Naturally tempestuous but coolly controlled, the astonishing designs of ‘Born Again In The Voltage’ are testament to Caterina’s unique grasp of meditative, minimalist maelstroms. Using elemental, primary waveforms, pattern based operations and subtractive counterpoints, her music blossoms along polyphonic and polyrhythmic axes with a complex unpredictability and timbral density that is a richly psychedelic pleasure to experience.
Picking us up in the arcing swells of Antonello Manzo’s cello and the radiant pulses of ‘Human Developers’, Barbieri takes 12 minutes to arrive in oxygen-depleted altitudes, before letting the cello sound out in a melting Renaissance hall of mirrors in ‘Rendering Intutions’. By the mid-way point, suitably dazed and malleable, she really pushes the envelope with uncanny tactility in the viscous subharmonics and contrail contours of ‘How To Decode An Illusion’ coming off like Stephen O’Malley deep in the matrix with Keith Fullerton Whitman, while her latent techno side, previously explored alongside Carlo Maria in the Punctum project for Berlin’s Σ, comes blazing thru in the mesmerising undulations of ‘We Access Only A Fraction’, which will make a serious DJ tool in the right mitts.
Early bodybeat works and unreleased tracks by Schiksal, the alias of Rudi Huybrechts, one of the most adventurous body beat artists of 1980's Belgium.
“365 Days” compiles his best work since 1982 until now. 36 years of experiment, changing gear from analog to digital and back, without ever changing his Leitmotiv: creating the perfect sounding body beat. After a few tracks released on the famous Underground Wave compilation albums on Walhalla Records, now finally a full album by this fascinating artist, a mix of early and more recent work. An album worth discovering!"
Alessandro Cortini returns with the third and final album from his SONOIO project...
“Prior to releasing a string of influential and widely acclaimed solo records under his own name on labels such as Important and Hospital Productions, Alessandro Cortini (Nine Inch Nails) self-released two albums under the name SONOIO (“It’s Me.”) in 2010 and 2011 in limited runs.
Praised for their complex and rich pop sound, strong vocal delivery and thoughtful compositions with impeccable production values, SONOIO’s “Red” and “Blue” (and the accompanying remix albums “Non Red” and “Non Blue”) made heavy use of Cortini’s expert manipulation of the Buchla synthesizer, releasing the single “Enough”, and remixing Ladytron’s “Houdini” before setting off on tour in direct support.
As activity with Nine Inch Nails, the demands of touring, and his other solo endeavors began to pick up, production on the third and final SONOIO installment was delayed. In 2014 however, after years of silence, SONOIO posted the single and video for the song “Thanks For Calling” exclusively on sonoio.org and quickly reignited rumors and hope for the release of the third album.
Opening track “I Don’t Know” and the mournful follow-up “Left” set the stage for the emotional ride, with reverbed synths over an acute mid-tempo beat – accompanied by astonishingly strong vocals, which those accustomed to Cortini’s instrumental works will likely be happily shocked by. Next, the aforementioned single “Thanks For Calling” starts slow, building over 4 minutes with Cortini whispering, speaking, building strength into the gorgeously delivered line: “falling to pieces” before the track explodes into a driving anthem.
The album then quite literally descends into “Pieces”, an instrumental effort that brings to mind Aphex’s Ambient Works – a submerged lullaby of electronics before re-emerging into “Vitamin D”, an energetic and pulsing track that snaps the listener to attention. A pattern of smart and intentional pacing and rhythm becomes apparent, as the listener is taken down through moody, effective dirges (“Bad Habit”, “Under The Sea”) and lifted up into a surprising guitar piece “What’s Before”. “I Don’t Know (Coda)” is the album’s effective and final track, with Cortini’s vocals muffled and echoing “I’m in the mirror, let me in….” before emerging loud and clear above a wash of howling synth*
Personal, layered and complex, “Fine” achieves greatness as both a singular example of deep and inspiring pop music, and as the final album – the closing chapter in the story of SONOIO.”
Autechre weigh in the labyrinthine 8 hour ‘NTS Sessions’, parsing the guts of their hard drives for gold and other precious materials dating back to 2011
The duo were initially commissioned to do a DJ residency on NTS, following their show from early 2016, but what transpired is closer in approach and results to a super extended Peel Session, featuring stacks of reworked material along with exclusive new notions generated by their infamous ‘System’ of software patches.
Given so much time to roam, they explore a full spectrum of meters, tones and alien machine feels ranging from succinct hyper-symphonies to an hour long closing passage of unfathomably deep ambient music, all sequenced with a non-linear narrative arc influenced by the stunning 3rd series of Twin Peaks, and with distant echoes of their seminal, freeform Disengage shows for Kiss firmly in mind.
Call it an album, call it a radio show, call it a massive excuse to lock yourself away for 8 hours, either way ‘NTS Sessions’ is a vital dispatch from the North Face models, with material such as the squirming tech-step of ‘North Spiral’ and the slimy electro of ‘Four Of Seven’ from the 1st session, or the footwork-esque ‘Gonk Tuf Hi’ from the 2nd, and the free-floating structures of ‘Cluster Casual’ off the 3rd volume offering some deeply satisfying rhythmic convolutions for the dancers, whereas the preponderance of durational cuts, including highlights such as the hour long ‘All End’, the breathtaking visions of ‘Turbine Epic Casual, Stpl Idle’, and the plasmic wormhole of ’Shimripl Casual’ reach deep into the most abstract, amorphous nooks of their sound in a way comparable with visionary work from Roland Kayn or Iannis Xenakis.
In other words, it’s fuucking mint.
Rod Modell (DeepChord) returns to Astral Industries’ elevated planes, this time with Chris Troy on a 20 year follow-up to their first Waveform Transmission; V 1.0-1.9 for Silent. With the 72 minute V 2.0-2.9, they present a supremely serene addition to their nebulous catalogue, paradoxically plumbing reverberant, expansive space to beautifully introspective effect.
Modell’s signature dub techniques are in effect, but only as part of a greater system of ambient processing, with having bass reserved to daubs of low end pressure in a swirling ecosystem of harmonious tone and abstract crackle that’s more widescreen kosmiche in its outlook, totally in key with the Astral Industries aesthetic that Modell has played a strong part in with DeepChord’s Lanterns and the Colours of Time (Re-Intrepreted) session with Wolfgang Voigt.
We warmly encourage pumping up your noumenal lilo and casting adrift in these epic realms.
With an impact that belies the Kentucky combo's mayfly like existence, Slint set about cheery picking elements from Punk, New Wave and classic Rock then reassembled them so as traditional notions of pitch, rhythm and timbre didn't apply.
Predicting the Post Rock of Tortoise by almost half a decade, the likes of 'Nosferatu Man' and 'Don, Aman' show just how heavily the likes of Mogwai and godspeed you black emperor! are indebted to their sound. Including the classic heartbreak squall of 'Good Morning, Captain' (whose DNA is all over Beck's new album) there's never been a better time to investigate Slint and play dot-to-dot through the post-rock elements of your record collection.
Sound artist Tomoko Sauvage adds the gorgeous, elemental waterbowl recordings of Musique Hydromantique to a wonderful run of 2017 releases on Félicia Atkinson & Bartolomé Sanson's Shelter Press. Quite possibly the most soothing hour of music you'll experience all year
It will become hard to believe once you’ve heard it, but all sounds on the LP were improvised with acoustic technique and recording - meaning no electronics, edits or overdubs - whilst they effectively sound like the microtonal output of some unique, natural synthesiser affected by subtle variables such as temperature, architecture, humidity and human presence. If Philip Corner and Eliane Radigue ever made a record together, it may well sound like Musique Hydromantique.
Using a set-up of hydrophones (underwater mics) and porcelain bowls filled with varying amounts of water, developed by the artist over the better part of this decade, Musique Hydromantique forms a meditative, experimental study in rhythm and pitch which resonates with gamelan and ancient divination techniques as much as it does with minimalist modern electronics. The results are utterly captivating in their fluid timbres and plaintively plangent structure, rendering the elusive, ever-changing and hypnotic phenomena of moving water in three diverse states or sonic sculptures that patently demonstrate a deep, underlying and innate connection between the performer, her medium, and the listener.
Clepsydra - meaning ‘water clock’ - most closely resembles a form of gamelan practice, or, even some form of minimal electronic music. For ten minutes she renders a series of exquisitely variegated sonic glyphs gestured from her struck bowls and hands changing the quantities of water, and by extension, the pitch of each bowl. Tomoko makes a real virtue of everyday sounds, resulting in a time-dilating passage of smooth glissandi, elegantly unshackling our internal clocks from the anticipation of quantised convention.
Fortune Biscuit follows in a very different style. Here, the brownian flow yields a remarkable micro-ecology of sounds that almost mimic animals, cyborganic mechanisms and insect choruses, yet they were entirely generated by a piece of porous terra cotta (biscuit) dipped into water. The scuttling patterns are perhaps understandable in that context, but we’re utterly baffled how they also make those pealing, arcing harmonic partials. In the final, 20 minute piece, Calligraphy those techniques serve to gel and diffuse her water-based sounds in even more bewildering fashion, as she employs the 10 second reverbs of an old textile factory to render her delicate, subaquatic sounds in a play of fractious drips, haptic rubs and their resonant feedback, feeling to melt time entirely and open a tranquil space for divination of your own senses in between those perceptions of time and tone.
This is a record that seems to have been designed to promote ultimate well being, it will completely engulf and subsume your senses and keep your attention rapt from start to finish. And we'd echo Tomoko's request that you listen to it at the start or end of the day for optimal results - far healthier than a spliff or night cap and will set your mood like some kind of ancient tuning fork.
Emmy award-winning composer Michael Price returns with Tender Symmetry, his second album with Erased Tapes.
"The ambitious musical project takes in a series of iconic National Trust locations across England as its inspiration, turning them into unlikely recording spaces. Michael and a host of musicians and collaborators — including soprano Grace Davidson (featured on Max Richter’s Sleep) and Shards (the choir on Nils Frahm’s All Melody) — travelled across the country in pursuit of places far removed from the traditional recording studio to create seven unique and moving pieces, straddling the past and the future.
The diversity of Michael Price’s choices ranges from the ruins of Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire to the Fan Bay WWII shelter, cut deep into the chalk cliffs of Dover. All owned by the National Trust save one, each venue became both the inspiration and the recording studio for Michael Price and his accompaniment of renowned musical ensembles, choirs and soloists.
"For Tender Symmetry, I stopped admiring and started participating in these buildings. This began as an exploration of writing and recording out in the world beyond the studio. I am interested in where we build our homes in an increasingly virtual world and the spirit of place we feel as we walk our local streets, our schools, temples and public spaces. Taking inspiration from a place, and the stories it told, then going back to that place to record, sometimes in less than ideal conditions, made the two-year adventure much more like shooting a film than making a record.” — Michael Price
Acoustics varied wildly as the artists moved from places designed with sound in mind to locations which demanded the use of miners’ helmets for light and battery-powered sound gear. The final recordings carry the genuinely unique sonic blueprints and spirit of each place – from the birdsong in the courtyard at Speke Hall to the steam-driven cotton mill accompaniment at Quarry Bank. “When we recorded the piece at Fan Bay in the World War II shelter deep inside the chalk cliffs of Dover, Peter Gregson’s cello wasn’t at all happy with the clammy, dank conditions; but to be in the tunnels where young soldiers spent months on end, constantly on alert for incoming bombers, gave the recording an extraordinarily intimate, moving quality. At each site, the human mixed with the historical, and the natural environment of each space comes through with each piece. I tried to leave an imprint of each location on the record.”
While each piece of music is named after the location in which it was created, William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience courses through them as well. Soprano Grace Davidson sings Blake’s poignant words about nature, religion and the industrial revolution on several of the pieces including the astoundingly beautiful album closer Shade Of Dreams, written after the birth of Michael’s daughter. “The final piece, Shade of Dreams, is part of a group of pieces I wrote for the birth of our daughter, Emilie. It, like all the works on the album, takes its text from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, in this case, A Cradle Song. As much as Tender Symmetry is about the past, it is firmly about the future, and all our of shared futures.”
Grace Davies, National Trust contemporary arts programme manager said:
“We were delighted when Michael approached us with this project as it directly draws on the extraordinary stories and history of these special places. The sheer variety of sites that Michael has chosen has resulted in a collection of new music that is sometimes surprising, sometimes poignant, and – above all – inspirational. I am sure that audiences will be enchanted both by Michael’s music and our places that have inspired him.”
Raw yet sophisticated deep house, acid and electro clearly schooled in the classics, from Glasgow’s Stephen Lopkin
Continuing a run of Gaelic-located or themed titles for M>O>S, Clyde Built is perhaps the definitive batch of Lopkin's emotive and puristic style following ‘The Haggis Trap’  and ‘Meall a’ Bhùiridh’ .
Nodding to Glasgow’s heritage as the entry point for so much imported American dance music as well as its industrial past, Lopkin forges 10 aces over two plates, with divine results inspired by Detroit classics in ‘Fragments of Yesteryear’ and ’Stupid Humans’, along with the lush house traction of ‘White Corries’, some B12-esque electro in ‘Decades’, and a heavily seductive stripe of Reese-bassed techno in ‘Fridays at Pure’, at Carl Craig-goes-Italo flavour in ‘Welcome To Nowhere’.
Prayers are answered with Vainqueur’s Reductions 1995-1997, a compilation of in-demand cuts from René Löwe’s seminal Chain Reaction 12”s and Elevations CD, including the vinyl premiere of Antistatic and first ever appearance of Antistatic II on any format, all available on wax for the first time in over 20 years!
For anyone who came thru during the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Vainqueur records were required listening - beyond Maurizio’s M-Series and the Basic Channel catalogue, they’re some of the strongest dub techno trax in existence. Now, two decades later, they still appear regularly in the mixes of those in the know, but their 2nd hand prices have steadily crept up in parallel.
To newcomers and older fiends alike, this 3LP selection provides a perfect overview of Vainqueur’s most feted period (not withstanding his all-time banger Lyot , but that was a kinda one-off). The first disc revolves his banging Reduce 1 and the monotone brilliance of Reduce 2, whilst the 2nd disc renders the more tender gasps and dub chords of Solanus (Original) and the heady Elevation II - both masterclasses in German techno minimalism - while the 3rd disc significantly presents the flared chords of Antistatic, taken from the Elevations CD, on vinyl for the 1st time, backed with the exclusive-to-this-12” Antistatic II.
Mood Hut deliver a late summer disco-house hustle with Local Artist’s ‘Dancer / Dreamer’ session, their first release of 2018
‘Dancer’ works out a strutting groove with walking disco bass and warm chords fringed by a patina of party vibes.
‘Dreamer’ comes a touch ruggeder on the flip with rudely dubbed out chords and robust subbass recalling Chez Damier and Ron Trent classics, but softened ‘round the edges for fluffier folks.
Another warm funk gust from early ‘80s Holland, courtesy of the butter smooth Richenel. Check for the swanging ‘Rap Apocalypse’, the stark soul burn of ‘It Takes Time’, and the arcade game funk of the title cut!
“Music From Memory return with a further six tracks from Dutch musician Richenel. Continuing with recordings taken from his debut album 'La Diferencia’, originally released in 1982 on the cult Amsterdam cassette only label Fetisj, the tracks on Music From Memory’s second EP ‘Perfect Stranger’ includes alternate takes drawn from Richenel’s personal copy of the album alongside a further composition which didn’t make it onto the original Fetisj cassette.”
It's impossible to overstate the unique brilliance of Arthur Russell's posthumous release, 'Another Thought'.
Originally issued on Phillip Glass's (then Decca financed) Point Blank label (CD only) a year after Arthur's tragic death in 1993, Another Thought features mostly bare-boned Russell with his vocals mixed with cello plucks and bowing, occasional percussion and other subtle touches. Almost all the tracks are exclusive to this release, two tracks appeared on the Soul Jazz comp and here you also get an alternative take on the classic 'In the Light Of The Miracle’.
Like many others, we wouldn't be ashamed to admit shedding a tear or two to the sheer life-affirming qualities of this record over the years. It's not sad, it's just heart-breakingly beautiful, stripped to the bare essentials of Arthur's voice and cello dappled with effects and backed with his own drum machine, plus congas, sax and keys from longtime collaborators such as Peter Zummo, Elodie Lauten, and Mustafa Ahmed, among others. In the most transcendent sense, it's music that occupies its very own genre, a magical soundworld all of its own, ready for you to visit when times are good, and perhaps even more so when they're bad and you really need a fillip.
Although it’s been available on CD, first on that 1994 pressing for Point Music, and later in 2006 for Philip Glass's Orange Mountain Music, the magic is arguably enhanced by Arc Light Editions' much needed gesture to press it on wax for the first time. It's like finding a new, secret entrance to your favourite place in the world. Even passing Russell fans will likely know a few of its charms such as 'This Is How We walk On The Moon', 'Another Thought' itself, or the alternate version of 'Keeping Up' from 'The World Of...', and we truly envy any of you who are about to encounter it for the first time.
Sunn 0)))’s entrancing, crushing doom metal totem ’White1’, entirely remastered by Matt “The Alchemist” Colton for its 15th anniversary edition, including the beastly rarity ‘Cut Wood(ed)’ from their rare-as-heck ‘White’ box
Notably featuring guest appearances from Julian Cope and Joe Preston, White1 is an exceptional highlight of Sunn 0)))’s near-sacred catalogue of doom metal drone recordings. Originally intended as an acoustic album, the recording session took a different route towards psychedelic electronic experimentation, with the results originally issued in 2003 on CD and as a now sought-after 3-sided LP packaged in a pillowcase and including a sleeping pill.
In the same year of its release, this reviewer popped their Sunn 0))) cherry at Autechre’s ATP, which was nothing short of a life-changing revelation, seeing Julian Cope prostrate, front of stage, surrounded by candles and dry ice, flanked by axe-wielding druids clawing the most monstrous riffs this teenaged bean had ever heard.
On disc, you might not get the full visual glory of O’Malley, Anderson, Ritter, and Cope on stage, but provided you crank it loud enough at home, you can now come closer than ever to the void of White1, from Cope’s foul mouthed induction in the 26 minutes of My Wall, to the brainfeezing blend of traditional Norse vocals and the super rare appearance of Joe Preston’s achingly tight drumming on The Gates of Ballard - one of scant few Sunn 0))) cuts to feature percussion, and which still makes us want to knock down skyscrapers - and right thru the subharmonic ritual of A Shaving of the Horn That Speared You.
Always pushing it one step farther, this release also now includes the abyssal dimensions of Cut Wood(ed), their 2003 collaboration with Ulver which didn’t make the original LP, later found on the White box in 2006, and now retrospectively added to this definitive edition of a staggering masterpiece.
Filth-smith Helena Hauff fires up a raw-to-the-bone barrage of bleached drum machines and needle-fanged arps on ‘Qualm’ - the Hamburg assassin’s 2nd album for Ninja Tune.
Arriving at a point where Helena is a hugely sought-after DJ - a time when other artists have often played up to a more commercial style - she pulls no punches with a severely thistly album of extreme pH levels placing her love of Bunker bombs and noisy industrial dance music front and centre, in a way perhaps designed to keep the dilettantes at arm’s length, while offering a sweaty embrace to all madder ravers, cyberpunks and misfits.
Under the title Qualm - one of those words you can chew like gristle - Helena deftly and brutally gets what she needs from her machines, slaving a battered analogue array to the front of the rave and rarely sparing the whip for any of them. However, when more romantic or melancholy emotions come thru, they’re direct and never self indulgent, lending a fine contrast to the album’s harshest aspects.
In transitional flux of alkali and acidic extremes, Helena charts a heavy trip between the salty ghetto lash of Barrow Boot Boys and the bittersweet synth-pop of It Was All Fields Around Here When I Was A Kid which both bookend the set. In the frazzled space between, she laces up some absolute welters with raging acid of Lifestyle Guru, the screwface charge of Hyper-Intelligent Genetically Enriched Cyborg, and the switch from ‘floor-swilling 303s to night-vision pads in The Smell Of Suds and Steel, while her electro instincts bubble up in warped ways on Fag Butts In The Fire Bucket and the furtive, slimy creep of Panegyric.
But none of those would be so effective in an album context without the contrasts provided by her more fanciful missives, such as the salty lullaby of Entropy Created You And Me, the blood-curdled horror themes of Primordial Sludge, or the struggling nEuro pomp of the titular Qualm itself, which can possibly be taken as a sort of requiem for a rotting Eurozone at the vinegar strokes of late capitalism.
London’s dankest relay palpably paranoid pressures from the capital on The Bug's newly minted Pressure label, hopefully the start of an ongoing collaboration between the pair.
Spying those hours of the dance when the smoke machines are puffing but there’s nobody there yet, Fog finds them melding charred bass hustle with billowing greyscale atmospheres in a time-honoured style shared by both artists.
On the flip, Shrine distills their meditative intensity to more suspenseful degrees with exceedingly brittle drums bearing the huge, brooding weight of a slowed down dread bass and glowering pads = minimal fuss for deadly, concentrated impact.
After a blazing succession of Sound System heaters, Dug Out offers a spiritual session of seminal nyabinghi grounation from Dadawah circa 1974, perhaps the most mind-expanding, important spiritual dub reissue we've heard this last decade.
It's most likely a large influence upon the work of label head Mark Ernestus in his Rhythm & Sound guise, recalling the magical spirituality of classics like 'Making History' among others in the hypntoic, shuffling pace and intangibly smoky aura that seems to evaporate from the grooves with each listen. The group is led by Ras Michael, guiding a traditional set up of nyabinghi (ceremonial Rasta drums), bass, guitar, brass and Piano organ in four extended excursions over sublime, psychedelic terrain without a worry in the world.
As with much of the best reggae, much of the magic was elicited and embellished in post production, with Lloyd Charmers and Federal engineer George Raymond apparently staying up all night after the session to mix the recording, imbuing the tracks with a dazed, wide-open and echoing personal space. Keeping the standards impeccably high, the album was lovingly restored at Abbey Road and looks every bit the classic that it is. Big up Dug Out, this going to be on rotation round here for years to come.
Not for the first time, but arguably the most significant, Pye Corner Audio crosses paths with Ghost Box for his first LP of 2016; a narcotically hypnagogic and dystopian trip entitled Stasis.
At least one leap year cycle since his last album with the GB’s, Sleep Games, right now this one feels like a stygian trudge into bleakest futures, operating at such a stoned pace that it moves slower than actual time, and by submitting to its temporal warp we’re allowed to regress back into a pre-digital epoch of paranoid cold, or even civil war atmospheres and paranoia.
It could almost be the soundtrack to a Ben Wheatley flick (low budget, not the over-glossy high rise) about British time travellers, forgoing Dr. Who queso for a more hard-boiled, furtive vibe about anachronistic assassins sent back to kill Nigel Farage at birth, only to uncover that he’s part of an exceedingly dangerous non-human race with ties to Johnson, Cameron and all the other pebble-people, so they round them all up and lock them in a hostel in Middlesbrough with a broken kettle and packet of poisoned monster munch between the lot.
Of course, that fantasy is all set to a soundtrack of wistful electronic mists and pulsating arpeggios that could be right out of some late ‘70s / early ‘80s synth library, and ultimately shows that whilst technology has advanced in the meantime, that ostensibly archaic music still reflects an underlying eldritch darkness contemporary and relevant to both eras, then and now.
Glass offers the sublime results of a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), as performed and recorded at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut during the private opening to Yayoi Kusama’s installation marking the 110th anniversary of Johnson’s birth.
Making sterling use of the landmark architectural work’s pellucid dimensions, the pair fixed contact mics to its glass walls, which they effectively played as an “instrument”, rubbing it with rubber gong mallets to generate delicate tones which they combined with a sympathetic palette of singing glass bowls, crotales, keyboards and mixers.
The seamless performance of floating, weightless tones and exquisitely quivering timbres is without doubt one of their finest. For the duration we’re held static and spellbound by the pair’s interplay of microtonal shifts and plasmic chronics, keening the listener thru hazes of digital dust and vortices of angelic harmonics to locate, alchemise and resolve a rarified, deeply mysterious spirit before the piece closes.
As the follow-up to their OST for The Revenant  and the warbling keys of Summvs  before that, the achingly lush tension of Glass is perhaps the purest testament to the clarity of vision and endless minimalist mutability of this highly revered duo.
Robin Buckley a.k.a. rkss reasembles mainstream EDM sample packs on the killer, unconventional ‘DJ Tools’ - the long awaited first album on Lee Gamble’s UIQ label following 12" releases from Lanark Artefax, Renick Bell, Sim Hutchins, Zuli and others. If you're into anything from Florian Hecker to Rian Treanor, Evol, Errorsmith, Theo Burt or Lorenzo Senni - this one’s a doozy!
Manipulating off-the-shelf sounds from ‘EDM Kicks Vol.1’ through various processing techniques, rkss explores the politics and aesthetics of club culture, technology and queerness by radically altering these preconceived, “purpose-built” blocks of sound from their original use, and rendering them in a spectrum of non-standard, ambiguous designs that both highlight, abstract, and reimagine the samples’ social function.
The result is nine hyper-colourful, unpredictable and uniquely engaging tracks that metaphorically connote queer dynamics, employing the user-oblivious potential of computer software to shape a form of dance music that insightfully reflects and celebrates rkss’ difference within the flux of today’s social spaces. In other words it’s a music very much of, and for, its times, crucially in step with current redefinitions of musical boundaries and identity politics.
In Robin's own words:
“DJ Tools was recorded at a turning point for me as an artist & person as I came into the aesthetic and social limitations I was finding in contemporary dance culture. I started to change how I thought about myself as an artist in terms of changing the way I created music, instead of writing the music at home and later arranging it for the club, I started writing music for live performance first. I wanted to be able to arrange these pieces/excerpts / sketches live. I was beginning to re-arrange how I thought about my gender / self and placing, exploring and finding the language to point to my sense of difference as a rans person. DJ Tools was where I began to formulate my own relationship to club culture as a mostly sober, transgender person, what version of club music did I want to engage with in that social space? Fluid, dynamic and reacting to audience. Highlighting the social. Sharing & connecting through my difference rather than erasing it.”