Detroit OG Waajeed drops his first album in over a decade with the deep house and broken beat feast of ‘From The Dirt’ on Submerge label, Dirt Tech Reck
Following the examples of his preceding 12”s, including an ace for Planet E, Waajeed keeps the vibe firmly house, as opposed to anything like his earlier hip hop work with Slum Village or Platinum Pied Pipers. However, when compared to the vast field of deep house diletanttes in operation right now, that hip hop swang and ruggedness can’t help but bleed thru and set this album well apart form the rest and up there with proper gear from Rick Wilhite to KDJ or Karizma.
Jai Paul gets the best out of another new artist with Fabiana Palladino’s ‘80s FM synth pop nugget ’Shimmer’ following up her work with everyone from Laura Groves to Jessie Ware
On ‘Shimmer’ Fabiana works a sweetly tender sound blending naif computer game idents with big, gated snares, crashing syndrums, keys and electric guitar on an inch-perfect late ‘80s pop sound riddled with filigree detail engineered by Jai Paul...
‘Night Kaleidoscope’ is Alec Cheer’s totally classic-sounding synth score for a “micro-budget” psychedelic vampire horror directed by Grant McPhee and shot in Edinburgh.
As ever Jonny Trunk has sniffed out another peach for his Trunk emporium, giving up very eldritch, tense and austere soundtrack that matches the film’s UK-styled parallels to Lynch or Cronenberg. By that token, it could be compared as Pye Corner Audio paying homage to John Carpenter, oozing with bloodstained synths and peppered with driving, wood-fired drum machines at important junctures. Most impressive and perhaps refreshing is Cheer’s sense of reserve and economy, keeping listeners on the edge of seats rather than bombarded with signposts.
Tangy deep house lust from Copenhagen’s Wilma for resuscitated local label Multiplex
We’re not sure who’s behind the classic-sounding vocal - is it a sample or original? - but never mind, as it sounds great either way on the rude Omar-S vibes of ‘Bodycall’.
On the other hand, ’S.O.B.’ is a deep, driving instrumental burnished with fizzing electro leads and lush late night sky pads, which is drawn out for the journey in C.K.’s remix, covering the whole B-side with lip-smackingly lush vibes and jibbery vocal sure to get the eyes and jaw wobbling at 5am.
Chasing up her outta-the-blue ace for PAN, Stine Janvin presents a more playful, textured and pop-wise volley of vocal and electronic manipulations for London’s Laura Lies In
‘ME/WE’ is testament to Stine’s unique, explorative subversion of musical convention, twisting from hypnagogic knot of loops in ‘Open Minded’, to thrumming rhythmic noise and discomfiting vocals referencing the #metoo movement in ‘DICK’, before sampling Muhammad Ali’s army induction refusal in the avant-dancehall of ‘ME/WE’, and hitting the pop nerve from oblique new angles compatible with Amnesia Scanner and Sega Bodega on ‘Change The Winning Team’.
“ST/NE is an alter ego and artist name of Stine Janvin, giving life to a satirical pop experiment combining field recordings, vocal samples and electronic production. ME/WE pulls inspiration from late night bar-chat philosophy, Muhammad Ali’s army induction refusal, #metoo-stories and a broken Stockhausen record materialising in 4 tracks of vocal sirenage, fractured techno and mutant trap.
Manipulated and dehumanised as it is, the vocals trace a thread throughout, tying this collection of contrasts together and resulting in a singular, cohesive and compelling EP.”
Amazing, sui generis actions from Poland’s Mołr Drammaz duo and drummer Jacek Tokarski, taking in Coil-esque electronic abstraction, free jazz and ambient sound poetry under their broad wingspan on the 1st volume in “an undefinable series” unearthed by LFI
No strangers to the strangest strains of modern music, Lullabies For Insomniacs’ catalogue marbles thru the murk to highlight overlooked delicacies from spaces between the avant-garde, the DIY, and the occult. Mołr Drammaz’ ‘Times Before Emojis’ lies right in the middle of that triangulation, rounding up a baker’s dozen audities conceived in Poland between 1996-2012, mostly on their Mik Musik.! label. And, like their label name, the duo employ an equally free use of punctuation in their music, a refreshingly free-spirited, psychedelic style that sits in great company on LFI beside the likes of Sugai Ken, László Hortobágyi, Dino J.A. Deano.
Sequenced for sensory immersion and riddled with surprises, the compilation keens thru a number of reverberating digital drone pieces before shredded glitch gives way to a muddy systolic thrum and scrambled vox - all quite in/unhuman, before they suck us into what sounds like Smegma with a jazz drummer, and whorls of possessed tape loops. Turn over and it only gets more mercurial, vacillating vortices of Autechrian complexity with rabid batacuda rushes, surreal solo piano vignettes and fractured toytronica, culminating in the LP’s straightest but almost weirdest cut in the hobbling avant-pop of ‘Song Instead Of Grass’.
Heavy-slugging EBM techno from Poland’s Martyna Maja Wieczorek a.k.a. VTSS, delivered with the tongue-in-cheek run-out inscription: “To All The Men Out There”
This is the sort of stuff we imagine they play in ancient forest, with ravers jacking around a steel drum full of industrial-strength amphetamine they scope up by the handful.
A-side she smacks out the squealing high-register chaos and thunderous rolige of ‘Linked’ and the buzzing bruxist special, ‘Self Will’, while the B-side doesn’t let up with her stentorian drill ‘Versatility’, and the more chaotic pressure of ‘Fruition’.
Fresh, weird new grime from Bristol’s Lemzly Dale on his home-brewed Sector 7 Sounds
Merky Ace jumps on the lead cut and highlight ‘What Were Do’ for a borderline mental piece of skewed chords, hard drums and swaggering bars, while ‘High Noon’ draws for guitars samples and pitching synths in a sloshing instro, and ‘Go Away’ checks out on a class R&G downstroke.
Acido land their 2nd 12” of 2018, a batch of frayed ambient-techno and simmering Soundhack-style disco-house from SUED mainman SVN
In three archival parts, SVN peels away from the plusher vibes of his ’SW:SVN’ output for Apollo and toward intimate, club-backroom vibes.
The percolated disco boops and lilting chord cadence of ‘2011’ feels like a Soundhack joint left to simmer and lave in its juices since the start of the decade, whereas ‘2006’ sounds like a deep Detroit house chassis that could use a bit of brasso, with the scudding chords and hi-hat spritz of the B-side’s ‘2014’ lending itself to comparison with Shinichi Atobe or a Basic Channel track with the bass cut out.
Immaculate, well-studied nods to Ennio Morricone
“Luca Nieri’s 2nd solo effort follows a familiar pattern to Luca’s debut LP. A humble collection of songs fittingly recorded entirely at home, with Nieri playing every instrument.
The soundscape exists in a cosmos, textured and beautifully melancholy, switching effortlessly from self-penned Morricone-esque instrumentals to folk standards, with songs by Jackson C Frank and The Pentangle.”
Next in the ongoing Holger Czukay reissue scheme, his 1991 live album ‘Radio Wave Surfer’, recorded live between 1984 and 1987 at the Can Studio, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, and Messehalle Frankfurt-Main
Out of print since ’91, now newly remastered, ‘Radio Wave Surfer’ finds the legendary co-founder of Can conducting his bandmates, Michael Karoli and Jaki Liebzeit, plus their Phantom Band’s Sheldon Ancel, in one-take performances, recorded on a single mic, with mixing, but lots of carefully editing.
Breezing jazz-house vibes from Berlin-stationed producer Eddie C
Making his annual return to Tokyo’s Endless Flight, ‘Horizon’ comms with the mellow but insistent swing, neatly chopped breaks and Rhodes frills of their title cut on the front, backed with the more spaced-out glyde and filtered disco samples of ‘Wanna Feel Free’ and ‘Wanna Feel Dub’ on the B-side.
2018 marks the 40th anniversary of Bauhaus. To celebrate, Beggars Arkive are reissuing six records from the band’s catalogue on special edition coloured vinyl.
"Formed in 1978, The legendary and hugely influential quartet hailed from Northampton, England and is comprised of Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, David J and Kevin Haskins. The dark, dramatic music that they made, possessed far more force, variety and playfulness than the ‘founding fathers of goth’ tag that is always attached to them.
‘Burning From The Inside’ was Bauhaus’ fourth album and was the last of their studio albums of this era, released just after the band’s breakup in 1983. This was mastered from HD audio files transferred from the original tapes."
Anonymous, greyscale dub pressures from Thomas Berg’s Mystic Version, a sub-label of his Soundscape Versions
Playing deep into a classic, analog Berlin sound, ‘Mystic Versions 02 LP’ ticks all the boxes with drily functional title applied to spare, rugged, dusty dub styles in seven parts, leaning between ambient steppers, sloshing minimal techno, and subaquatic skankers.
LCD Soundsystem return to the fold with two new 12”s, this one featuring remixes of ‘i used to’ and ‘oh baby’ by Dixon and Lovefingers.
"Berlin DJ Dixon takes on the broodiness of ‘i used to’ and opens it up into a club space, a logical choice for the Innervisions head and Muting The Noise owner. LA native and ESP Institute founder Lovefingers puts two different spins on the sincere ‘oh baby’, making the original track a bit more upbeat and psychedelic."
Techno’s arch, dark alchemist Juan Mendez rolls out a powerful 2nd Silent Servant album with ‘Shadows of Death and Desire’ , arriving some six years after his ‘Negative Fascination’ side triggered a sea-change toward EBM and gothic sonics in a way that’s never been felt more strongly. The album also features the unlikely reappearance of longtime collaborator and vocalist Camella Lobo of Tropic of Cancer.
Over the past two decades the storied, L.A.-based producer has made his presence felt both by stealth and frequency. From his earliest work on LA’s Cytrax thru his pivotal role on early Tropic of Cancer releases and as recording and visual artist with Sandwell District, then later as the go-to-guy for fusions of post-punk, industrial, EBM and techno with DJ sets and releases as Silent Servant, Juan Mendez’s myriad efforts have inarguably exerted an enormous influence over contemporary techno and dark electronics.
With his sophomore album Silent Servant presents an affirmation of his prowess with properly physical effect, wielding some of the most strapping arps, possessed vox and moody pads in his catalogue. In contrast with ‘Negative Fascination’, its influential predecessor, the seven tracks of ‘Shadows of Death and Desire’ are defined by a toothier drive and bite, moving with shark-like momentum thru ruggedest club functions while allowing little room for anything like beat-less reflection or downtime.
Locking in with ‘Illusion’, he pursues singular, writhing permutations of EBM, industrial and post punk moods; taking in slathering highlights with the agitated bruxism of ‘Harm In Hand’ and the rotor-jawed syncopation of ‘Damage’, along with the trampling drone-dirge of ‘Loss Response’, and the needling panic attack dynamic of ’24 Hours’, before drifting off centre with the glorious, swingeing torque of ‘Glass Veil’, and a swooning goth finale in ‘Optimistic Decay’ which sees mendez reunite with longtime collaborator and vocalist Camella Lobo.
Exquisitely rendered in-the-mix by Joshua Eustis, we can practically guarantee that if you fell for the first album, this one will push your buttons hard, too.
Fracture pushes at D&B’s peripheries with the super tight, Footwork-compatible drums of ‘Soundboy get Nervous’ on dBridge’s Exit Records
The clenched title cut imagine a razor-sharp fusion of No U-Turn tech-step rufige inna footwork-style harness; ‘Turbo Toms’ goes on like Mumdance & Logos doing hardcore juke; ‘Makes Me Wonder’ serves tense, body-rolling momentum layered up with ace mid ‘90s techno-trance pads; and ‘No Screwface’ locks off a killer, breathlessly tight tech step sound.
Dave Aju winds up a avant-jazzy house session for Accidental Jr on occasion of their 2nd anniversary
‘Max at Masonic’ kicks off with a razor sharp sort of drum solo track helmed by heavy subbass; ‘Everybody’s Watching’ folds in some melodic colour and vocals encouraging listeners to “dance like everyone is watching”; while ‘O.O.O.’ signs off into plush deep house vibes, and ‘Telekuneko’ lays down a tuff tribal house groove.
Daniel Avery and Richard Fearless float their new merger, PSSU, on the latter’s Drone label
On ‘307309’ they recall classic early-mid ‘90s Aphex Twin and Autechre vibes with haunting pads and bruising electro drums, while ‘Fabricated From Steel’ heads down a long dark techno tunnel.
Detroit, Chicago and Paris-indebted deep filter house from Pistol Pete on Bristol’s Idle Hands
Clearly well-versed in Shake, Soundhack and Pepe Bradock styles, Stockholm’s Pistol Pete brings a vibe in all three parts: simmering the ‘floor with washed out piano chops and raw swang in ‘Orphan’; toying with deferred soul gratification in ‘Lundgaten’; and getting right under the skin swiththe mesmerising chords and devilishly offbeat hi-hats of ‘Esqpads’.
As anyone who has ever played near a freshly coated shed in mid-summer knows; not only does creosote stink it also stains like a tattoo. Thankfully King Creosote is the antithesis of his namesake, producing fragrantly buyout leftfield dusted folk that only threatens to stain your sub consciousness with it's deceptively simple melodies.
Opening with the sampled opera/folk/tronica (?!) of 'Twin Tub Twin', King Creosote (aka Kenny Anderson) weaves a tale of fate ("things sometimes work out, it comes out in the wash but if it don't there's no harm done...") over a heady blend of fuzzed up atmospherics and icy piano straight outta Telefon Tel Aviv's beatless oeuvre. Hovering somewhere between Adem and Gorky's Zygotic Mynki, Anderson's voice is by no means fragile but is nevertheless able to convey a very real sense of tenderness and intimacy that creates the impression he is singing just for you. Picking the pace up on 'Saffy Nool', Anderson conjures up an insistent melodica drenched rhythm opining "I was past 35 before my face made much sense..." before next track 'Klutz' presents itself as a must for anyone who preferred post-Britpop Blur before they acquired their Lady Smith Black Mambazo album.
Elsewhere 'Ph 6.5' gets away with the often terminal 'kid singing at the start'-syndrome before delving into a certain basement under a hill for inspiration, whilst 'Circle My Demise' is about as close as you'll ever get to hearing what Sigur Ros would have sounded had they been made in Scotland. Topping things off with the bargain bin Casio beats of 'Thrills & Spills' and the sea shanty from the afterlife of 'The Someone Else', King Creosote is a genre-bending excursion that obliterates notions of Nu-folk and Folktronica, replacing them with a hefty dollop of good music.
Electronic prism-pusher Zuli explores themes of identity, both hyperlocal and global, in ‘Terminal’; his singular and definitive artistic statement for Lee Gamble’s UIQ.
Expanding his sound to encompass melancholic ambient composition and grimy rap from prominent MC, Abyusif, as well as newcomers Abanoub, Mado $am and R-Rhyme, and mysterious Mecca-based vocalist MSYLMA, ‘Terminal’ finds Zuli drawing upon a multiplicity of personal experiences in a concerted effort to upend preconceptions of what an Egyptian artist “should” sound like.
In Zuli’s own words: “In a world that feels like it’s regressing into tribalism, many of us who don’t fit into any one specific group identity feel sidelined at best. When people talk to me, whether it be the press or peers in the scene I operate in, I am often approached with a preconceived notion of pretty much everything from my influences to and tastes to my politics and lifestyle, solely based on my nationality. It is a caricature that has proven very marketable, one that makes for a more interesting read/conversation/booking, apparently, than a multi-faceted (hence unique) human personality just like each and every one of us.”
Across the 14 tracks of ‘Terminal’, he smartly unpackages and dissolves those lazy pre- or misconceptions by forming his own, syncretic musical language. Meshing the rhythmic grammar of hip hop and club styles with the Arabic dialects of his MCs and vocalist and the free syntax of ambient music, he dissolves and undermines outmoded ideas of exotification, presenting an image of himself that’s more akin to the reality of Cairo and the sci-fi idea of P.K.D’s scramble suits than any cliche conjured by music media.
With controlled aggression and a grasp of chaos, Zuli serves big highlights in vocal pieces such as the opener ‘Nari’, featuring all the MCs entangled in a noxious noise rap clash, which smartly contrasts the haunting plangency of MSYLMA’s lament on ‘Kollu I-Joloud’. But the vocal only account for half of the album, and Zuli really comes into his own on cuts such as the sparring grime instrumental ‘Bump’ and the sawn-off junglism ‘Wreck’, as well as the album’s more delirious moments, like the poly-chromatic designs of ‘He’s Hearing Voices’ and the heat-warped geolocators diffused into the ambient keen and astral jazz flourishes of ‘Follow Your Breath’.
Landing at the start of a new decade, after much had happened in both producer Ivo Watts-Russell’s life and with his 4AD label, the fi nal part of the This Mortal Coil trilogy, Blood (1991), felt like a perfect conclusion. Meticulously orchestrated, vocalists Alison Limerick, Deirdre and Louise Rutkowski return from the second album with Caroline Crawley (Shelleyan Orphan / Babacar) and 4AD signees Heidi Berry, Kim Deal (Pixies / The Breeders), Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses / The Breeders / Belly) and Pieter Nooten all signed up.
This Mortal Coil's final studio album is a classic; considerably more controlled and condensed than its wonderful predecessor, Filigree & Shadow, it's aged more elegantly, sounding very much a record of the 90s (it was recorded than '91) than of the previous decade. It's perhaps the most obviously feminine TMC record: Ivo Watts-Russell, presiding once more over the general vibe of love smashed on a rock, relies largely on female vocalists - with the veteran Rutkowski sisters joined by Creation chanteuse Heidi Berry, Shelleyan Orphan's Caroline Crawley, Anne Garrigues, The Venomettes' Gini Ball, Alison Limerick, and Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly of then recent 4AD signings Pixies and Throwing Muses respectively.
It's also the most covers-heavy LP that the collective ever cut, with transformative versions of folk-rock and psych classics by Chris Bell, Gene Clark, Syd Barrett, Emmylou Harris, Spirit and The Byrds, as well as treatments of more contemporary songs by The Apartments, Rain Parade, Pieter Nooten and Mary Margaret O'Hara. Supremely gothic original 'The Lacemaker' - a haunting, weightless coming together of chamber strings, Badalamenti-esque synth pads and heavily reverbed, Ophelia-ish vocals warning that "dreams are like water, colourless and dangerous" - sets the sombre tone. It's tracks like this, and the atonal ambient spiritual of 'Andialu', that will probably appeal most to contemporary heads curious as to why, for example, the likes of Tropic of Cancer and Raime have pledged their allegiance to TMC, but it's the songs - those big, grandstanding ballads cat in gossamer-thin, minimalist arrangements - that stay with you longest.
The Heidi Berry-vocalled 'Til I Gain Control Again' is simply heart-stopping, while 'Bitter' anticipates the mournful, dub-infused trip-hop balladry that Massive Attack would make their own over the course of the 90s, and 'D.D. and E.' could easily be mistaken for something made by Julia Holter today. By some way the most subtle, and most refined, of TMC's albums, Blood is also the one to have benefited most from remastering - if you've not heard it before, or just you just need reminding of how good it is, it's your time.
A true Krautrock classic from the archives.
In 1976 Brian Eno visited Harmonia's studio in the Weserbergland region of northern Germany to create what would become one of the most cherished artifacts of the genre on 'Tracks and Traces'. Harmonia comprised of multi instrumentalists Hans Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Mobius (also known as Cluster) with former Kraftwerk and Neu member, Michael Rother, and together with the like-minded synth maestro Eno they created twelve tracks of seminal instrumental exploration.
The album contains two extended centrepieces in 'By The Riverside' and 'Sometimes In Autumn', perfectly capturing the sense of pastoral beauty mixed with that free thinking and future minded spirit that they embodied. Eno's vocals creep in subtly on 'Luneburg Heath', but the rest of the album is given over to shorter somnambulent tones that inspired countless young souls to explore the possibilities of the synthesizer since, tracks like the tensely cinematic 'Weird Dream' or incredibly brief but sublime 'When Shade Was Born'.
Rarely has an album owed so much to production... Low return with their most daring, experimental release in years, co-produced by James Blake's man at the controls B.J. Burton, at times verging on a layered, pulsing electronic sound you'd associate with the likes of Andy Stott. Doused in distortion, throbbing electronics, submerged vocals, side-chain effects - this could easily have been a nauseating exercise in modernisation; but instead the strength of the songwriting shines through for one of Low's best = a standout full-length for 2018.
"In 2018, Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.
This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fightsfor the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?"
You’d be forgiven for missing this hyper-limited release earlier this year (only 100 copies were made) - but thankfully we now have an exclusive clear vinyl edition, pressed up in a run of 250 copies as part of our ongoing celebration of the best of 2018.
Without a doubt one of the most daring artists out there right now, Klein makes music acutely symptomatic of its era. Naturally, recklessly combining formerly mutually exclusive styles such as gospel and noise, or ambient collage and R&B, she somehow keeps a distinct aesthetic amid these dense expressions of modernity, cannily reflecting the normalisation of intensifying socio-economic anxieties and the inexorable drive of urban life within her navigations of chaotic sonic environments.
Forging sounds and styles as wild as anything from Bob Ostertag’s ‘DJ Of The Month’, or with the decentred intensity of Aaron Dilloway, Klein’s music is better distinguished by the way she effortlessly bridges dimensions and conjures whole new sensations for the listener to deal with. I mean, if you’re on this site, you’re probably familiar with both Hype Williams and Prurient, but like us, you’d probably struggle to think of another artist who sounds like both of them at the same time, and in that sense Klein’s music is neologistic, syncretic and blessed with an intuitive physics in a way that language and musical perception is only catching up with.
Yet it’s best received and deciphered with a red 3rd eye and porous 6th sense, cos any attempt to limn it in concrete, literal terms will never fully grasp its emotive chicanery and might dull its aura of outright, alien oddness.
Sarah Davachi serves her 2nd album of 2018 with ‘Gave In Rest’, offering a studio developed follow-up to her mesmerising album ‘Let Night Come On Bells End The Day’, which has quietly dominated our listening lives for months already...
As her beatific blends of early church, medieval and Renaissance musics have patiently and patently revealed over the past five years, Sarah’s works for piano, organ, synth, and woodwind demonstrate a unique gift for extracting and reworking the most affective spirits of church music to a secular appeal, effectively voicing a sort of metaphysical minimalism that could be explained as a result of deeply focused technique, but is perhaps better regarded as a timeless form of sonic alchemy.
Where her previous records were documents of a shorter time spent with her instruments, Sarah dedicated herself on ‘Gave In Rest’, spending a summer giving deeper consideration to how Renaissance musicians experimented with new instruments, forms and texture, and “how the quietude… and the openness of physical space, the stillness of altars“ in churches would have affected how they wrote. Subsequently recording with Howard Bilerman at Montreal’s hotel2tango (home of myriad, seminal Constellation recordings), Sarah brought those instrumental ideas to life with the modern addition of tape delays and chorusing effects to infuse and render shimmering new layers of timbral depth to her plaintive melodic gestures, and with a subtle yet unmistakably visceral impact.
In album opener ‘Auster’ she uses tape to slow down a recorder and open up its vibrating innards, revealing a tremulous, transfixing soul in the most humble of instruments, while the LP’s closer ‘Waking’ finds her locating elusive echoes of Baroque harmonies in that most soulful machine, beautifully realigning its putative purpose. In between, her tracks’ moods and titles chart a slow passing of day and night, from he ghostly elegance of ‘Third Hour’ to her sylvan ‘Evensong’, thru to the stately yet lip-wobbling beauty of ‘Matins’ at the album’s core, and perhaps best of all in the achingly evocative coruscation of ‘Gloaming’, a song we already know we’ll be returning to for many, many years to come.
The loaded, polysemous word ‘soul’ springs to mind, on the one hand connoting lofty notions of transcendence, contemplation and reverence, while on the other also helping to define a gentle, slow-burning modesty and broad appeal to practically anybody with ears and a functioning sense of empathy. But most of all, ‘Gave In Rest’ will strike a chord with anyone who listens properly and attentively. To use another loaded phrase, the devil is beautifully apparent in its gilded detail.
Full schwing boogie, drowsy blue 4th world vibes and dream sequence ambience, dug up and remastered for DJ play and optimal home listening by the on-point Seance Center
“MJ Lallo sings to trees and distant planets, plays drum machines, synthesizers and processes her voice to sound like percussion, space ships, trumpets, birds and words from an unknown language. Lallo works in post-production music and SFX, and founded her own company MJ Productions in 1983. Although she has been creating music for films and other projects for over forty years, she only released one Hi-NRG 12” under a pseudonym, a small-run cassette in the late 80s and a CD in the early 2000s. Séance Centre is exploring Lallo’s unique and fascinating body of work with this maxi single and a forthcoming 2LP compilation.
Star Child focuses on Lallo’s love of movement in body and mind. Star Child Going Home is a late-night FM boogie transmission, a soaring wordless ode to an interstellar visitor departing. The song conveys a complex synthetic love beyond the realm of language, using voice, Juno 106 and deft LinnDrum programming. Aquarius Bluemoves languidly, a sun-soaked Californian cosmic cruiser. Lallo’s voice swims and plays in waves of synth and drum-current, like sun-rays across the sea at magic hour. Also Deep Dreams, an epic entrancing meditation for synth, drums and voice. A journey and transference of the mind from verbal consciousness to pre-lingual dream-state.”
Sturdy square-bass techno rollers outta NYC
Back to bang on The Bunker NYC for the first time since 2014, Marco Shuttle goes long and deep with a mix of fine-tuned bass rumble, nagging drums and ethereal atmospheres in ‘The Moon Chant’, whereas ‘Siberia’ hearkens back to NYC’s industrial/EBM heritage, pivoting off cracking snares into acres of spiralling synth space, and ‘Curve Pericolose’ tweaks out on sweetly off-key astral techno trajectory.
This Mortal Coil’s debut album It’ll End In Tears (1984) forged the template; helping to crystallise 4AD’s emerging signature sound whilst shining a light on some of their stable with Cocteau Twins, Colourbox, Dead Can Dance and The Wolfgang Press all involved. The line-up was completed by arranger Martin McCarrick, violinist Gini Ball, Howard Devoto of Buzzcocks / Magazine fame and Cindytalk’s Gordon Sharp. Pitchfork recently named it one of the best Dream Pop albums ever, a moment which “catalysed 4AD’s ascendance from the stilted poetics of goth rock to the kings of gauzy transcendence.”
Originally released in 1984, ‘It’ll End In Tears’ was the debut of ambitious 4AD ‘supergroup’ This Mortal Coil. Pieced together by 4AD boss Ivo Watts-Russell the project was more of a collective than a traditional band, and was used as a blanket name for anyone Watts-Russell felt like dragging in. Here we find the Cocteau Twins trio of Liz Fraser, Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde joined by Dead Can Dance’s Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry among other producers and musicians, and unsurprisingly the musical content veers towards these two bands particular strengths; emotive gothic pop. In the years since, This Mortal Coil have probably been most affectionately remembered for their cover versions, and the Liz Fraser fronted cover of ‘Song to the Siren’ is here in all its glory.
Sad and heart-breakingly beautiful this is a rare occasion where a cover version can better the original in almost every way. Elsewhere we find the collective wrangling with Big Star’s ‘Kangaroo’ and Holocaust’ as well as Colin Newman’s ‘Not Me’, and it stands as a testament to Watts-Russell’s guiding hand that what could have so easily have been a novelty record hangs together with majesty and clarity.
A timeless piece of 80s British music history, ‘It’ll End In Tears’ is a record that should be in any self-respecting music fan’s collection - essential purchase.
Cue gushing waves of nostalgia: Sandra Kerr & John Faulkner’s soundtrack forkids TV animation ‘Bagpuss’ is finally available on vinyl. It’s definitely one for the over ‘40s, and younger folkies who’re old at heart.
"Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss , Old fat furry cat-puss , Wake up and look at this thing that I bring, Wake up, be bright , Be golden and light , Bagpuss, Oh hear what I sing. 12th of February, 1974, and for an audience of small children at 1:45pm, a life irrevocably coloured by the wayward wonderings of one saggy cloth cat...
Some 44 years later and Earth Recordings opens the door to Bagpuss & Co. once again, revealing for the first time the original music in all its newly-mastered splendour. The 32 tracks that make up the main body of the compositions are – like all good folk music – a patchwork of traditional pieces, half-remembered tunes and pure improvisation. It's testament to Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner's musicianship that the recordings work so well, not only within the context of the television episodes, but as an album in its own right.
Of the recording, Oliver Postgate (in his exquisite autobiography 'Seeing Things') says: "Between them Sandra and John could play every sort of instrument from a mountain dulcimer to an Irish fiddle. They knew and could sing every tune in the world and didn't bother with written music, except as a last resort. They were exactly suited to Gabriel the Toad and Madeleine the Rag Doll and in those roles were happy to play whatever music and sing whatever songs would be needed." Those songs manifested themselves as reworkings of familiar tunes ('I Saw A Ship'; 'Row Your Boat'; 'Bucket's Burning'), takes on traditional ballads ('Brian O'Lynn'; 'The Frog Princess'; 'Weaving Song'; 'The Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket') and delicious flights of fancy ('The Bony King of Nowhere'; 'Turtle Calypso'; 'Uncle Feedle').
The counterpart to Madeleine and Gabriel's more polished ditties are the interludes from the mice; a raggle-taggle chorus that accompanies the creatures' efforts of help (with the mice once famously going on strike when they were not permitted sang as they worked). Again, Postgate muses: "Once I had worked out a few episodes I would make a very rough list of the bits where I though music would be appropriate. I would send it to [Sandra and John] to think about. Then we would borrow a fairly silent room in a remote house and, taking the various articles that we intended to celebrate with us, would spend a happy day with a tape recorder, thinking up and recording whatever songs and tunes came to mind."
The outtakes provide an intimate – and often very humourous – insight into the trio's work ethic, if it can be called such a thing. (By all accounts they sound as though they're having a very jolly time indeed.) Highlights include alternative opening words and end music, as well as Postgate sound-checking in character as Bagpuss. This never-before heard audio provides a real treat for fans (and indeed those new to the Smallfilms stable) – affirmation again to the enduring quality of these special recordings, and the beloved programme that inspired them. "An accidental classic of the folk-roots underground that we never dared hope we’d hear with such clarity."Stewart Lee.. And so their work was done."
New to the BEB fold, тпсб premieres a rugged deviation of his techno sound on Sekundenschlaf, leaving 4/4 in the rear-view to focus on earthier, grubbing percussion warped into jungle and footwork styles, clad in fetid atmospheres. RIYL Rezzett, Ossia, Buttechno
“Sleep-deprived, breakbeat-driven vignettes of unclear authorship, from somewhere west of Lake Lagoda, near the Russia-Finland border.
Sekundenschlaf has significant points of correspondence with contemporary European electronic music, as well as the golden age of (early) jungle and ambient techno. But its response to tradition, and to the zeitgeist, is idiosyncratic to say the least – with an atmosphere and psychogeography rooted in the tranquility and majesty of Western Russian nature, and the anxiety and distress of the country’s post-Soviet working class.
Pastoral calm meets dissonance and unease. The music has a loose, improvised feel, but its arrangements are intricate, its melodies iridescent: cascading arpeggios that stir a sense of optimism and renewal, sighing string-pads that evoke the deepest melancholy. Rhythms simultaneously hyped-up and burned-out, collapsing in on themselves as they race to destinations unknown. All bound together with field recordings of eavesdropped conversations, blurred into abstraction, a droning subliminal menace.”
A Late 80’s slow digital dancehall killer; malevolent, sick and paranoid - prob the most essential and sought-after selection of dubs you'll ever have the pleasure of copping.
Replay Version is basically like a JA variant of Ramelzee & K Rob's Beat Bop, Once Bitten is a deadly variant featuring more detuned-synths on top of a pure skank, while "Senci Pipe" on the flip is just out and out minimal digital sorcery.
"Sides like these announced a new era in reggae... Replay Version sets the mood - malevolent, sick and paranoid, but haunting, and funky like a train, with cruelly brilliant effects..."
Special coloured vinyl edition of Space Afrika’s excellent album of mutable ambient frameworks somewhere between Lee Gamble’s ‘Diversions', Jan Jelinek and The Connection Machine. Recommended late night listening…
Space Afrika offer a bird’s eye view of the city at night with Somewhere Decent To Live; their keenly anticipated first LP on sferic. Unshackled from dancefloor needs, but still inspired and feeding off its spirit and romance, the pair respectfully acknowledge the undercurrents of jungle, dubstep, ambient techno and deep house which feed into their home city’s late night economy, dowsing their tributaries back to dub and rendering the findings in a quiet, modestly lush ambient haze with a flawlessly anaesthetising effect.
Taking gaseous form as a series of dark blue hues and subbass pulses, the vibe inside is delectably elusive. Unlike their previous transmissions on Where To Now? and Köln’s LL.M., the pair’s dancefloor urges are dissolved in favour of suggestively mutable ambient frameworks, leaving the kicks in the club while they appear to float overhead like the dead kid embarking his Bardo in Gaspar Noé’s Enter The Void.
In firm but gentle style they feel out eight interlinked headspaces, drifting like spectral flanneurs from the Diversions-like opener uwëm/creãtiõn to intercept telepathic thoughts from Teutonic friends in the percolated subs and drizzly ambient clag of sd/tl, before arriving at the most arresting moment in their catalogue thus far with the masterfully widescreen yet immersive bly and its sublimely smeared timbral thizz.
The second half of the record subsequently describes a more inward journey from wistful loops in u+00B1 to the sylvan 2-step of gwabh and curve feat. Echium, ultimately culminating in the echo chamber melt of dred.
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.
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.
The second instalment from Basic Channel's offshoot, Basic Replay, a reissue label convened to showcase prime influences and lesser known inspirations, the men from Berlin have selected and remastered a truly shocking follow up to Keith Hudson's 'Playing It Cool..' album reissued last year.
'Call me rambo' was originally recorded in 1986 and released on the Heavyweight label, an imprint formed by the Heavyweight soundsystem, based in the Wood Green and Tottenham areas of north London. Featuring Chester Roots at the controls and his nephew Ackie at the microphone, this is raw and dangerous english dancehall. Hailing from that blissful period in the middle eighties, when clubs could play Marley Marl next to Super Cat, or Half Pint next to early Trax records, 'Call Me Rambo' opens with a bang, racked with strafing machine gun fire and the helicopter sounds free with a Commodore 64, natty dread a go scientific an' ballistic.
Stylistically speaking, Ackie's voice is reminiscent of the great Barrington Levy, and the simply enormous, rampant rhythm sends shockwaves through any musical system - all b-boys and hardcore addicts would do well to sweep a copy of this and ask questions later. Flip the script, and Chesse retains Ackie's winning 'Don't push me' refrain, and much of the sonic elements but works the board hard, 'Rambo Gun Salute' as a part two is simply perfection, dubwise and anywise. 'Rambo Salute' takes the dub even further out, as Ackie drifts further into the mix, and Chester works it on out in true ragamuffin style. "Ramming dancehall is the priority", so the man say. This has shattered the office record for rewinds this week and is utterly essential for ALL self-respecting music fans.
Opiated, psychoacoustic dérives between processed field recordings, far flung voices, atmospheric electronics and outernational percussion, imagined and executed by Berlin/NYC’s Soundwalk Collective.
‘Death Must Die’ impressionistically describes a day in the sacred Indian city of Varanasi - a principle site of death for Hindus, where they come to die and burn their dead - and takes listeners from the blue hour before dawn right through to the end of the day, by the Ganges, to meditate on the intoxicating nature of death.
Strut dust down an electro-zouk peach from late ‘80s Guadaloupe, reissued outside the Caribbean Island for the 1st time!
“Producer Darius Denon explains: “This was 1988 and bands like Zouk Machine and Kassav were huge. I had met producer Frankie Brumier when I was performing at festivals and parties and he wanted to record a girl group so we began scouting venues, mainly around the Grande-Terre district in the island’s capital, Pointe-à-Pitre. I ran auditions and picked out the best three voices – Fabienne, Leïla and Yolande. One was singing in a choir and none of them had met each other previously.”
Recording at a studio in Le Gosier, Denon trained them to sing the songs and spent around 6 weeks recording the album: “I gave them a couple of compositions that I had planned for my own solo album. I remember that we all got on really well; the sessions were fun.”
The title track ‘Las Palé’ was the lead track pushed as a single and achieved modest success domestically. The band did a few promotional performances in the island’s discotheques but, in the end, the album stalled. “Studios were expensive and there was no cheap technology as we have now. So, the producer ended up cutting corners with the production – the mix was not completely finished and the voices were not synchronised right to some of the tracks.”
For Denon, he continued his career to the present day, successfully moving to Paris and breaking through with the hit ‘Je t’emmene’ in 1998. Meanwhile, although ‘Las Palé’ turned out to be Feeling Kréyol’s only recording, the interest in the album has grown in recent years with the title track’s lo-fi charm finding its way into sets by Invisible City and onto Red Light Radio, NTS and more.”
Superb curio from NYC-based Kathleen Baird, now Ka Baird for the purposes of this LP, sweeping from alien/avian electronics to Sun Ra-meets-Pekka Airaksinen electro-jazz freenuss, iridescent string and flute movements, and one a-m-a-z-i-n-g piece of flute, vox and pulsing bass that sounds like a winged sister of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe - practically worth it for this one alone! Seriously - one of the most original and brilliant things we've heard this year...
"Sapropelic Pycnic is the world debut of music presented under the name of Ka Baird. While this record is a commencement of many sorts, it is in no way a mere beginning: Ka was one of the founding members of experimental psychlings Spires That In the Sunset Rise. Formed in 2001 out of the Chicago scene, and described by late guitar legend Jack Rose as a "female Sun City Girls," Spires' sisterhood of sound deepened the New Folk slant with an array of avant- and world-flavored directions drawing them ever-farther into the source.
Ka relocated to NYC in late 2014 and immediately embarked upon new directions - exploring piano improvisations, electroacoustic intervention, extended vocal technique, physical movement and the electronic processing of her flute playing.With the release of Sapropelic Pycnic, Ka manifests an evolving self-hood, expanding upon the essence of her first two albums' artist name, while replacing and thus becoming that name on her own. Reaching toward the ancient roots of music, Ka utilizes electronic manipulation on the single "Tok Tru" to take the ear past preconception, combining the linearity of the physical with the abstraction of the cerebral, crafting textural rhythmic noise with lush operatic passages.
Conceived live as a series of solo vignettes and played that way by Ka (featuring contributions from Max Eilbacher (electronics), Sandy Gordon (vibraphone) and Troy Schafer (violin), Sapropelic Pycnic draws from primordial ooze and raises high a sacrifice to the immemorial concept of the sacred. We are standing on the verge of a great chasm. Sapropelic Pycnic uses tools both ancient and modern to draw Ka Baird - and all who listen - upward, toward the eternal!"
Jan Jelinek offers a classic, remastered and extended selection of material by Ursula Bogner, presenting a possibly apocryphal, definitely charming batch of early electronics purportedly made at home by Ursula between 1969-1988. It's either Jelinek himself offering up an enticing slice of sonic fiction, or a genuine archival oddity - either way, great to have it back again.
Back in 2008, Ursula’s ‘Recordings 1969-1988’ formed the maiden release on Jelinek’s Faitiche label. Chins were stroked, heads-scratched at where it all came from - the promo notes suggested a chance encounter with Ursula’s son led to the discovery of her home-made recordings on reel-to-reel and HiFi cassettes - however, more sceptical listeners, us included, weren’t entirely convinced. Short of taking a time machine back to the classes Ursula supposedly attended at the Studio for elektronische Musik in Kiln at the WDR with Herbert Eimert, we’ll never really know, but the music loses none of its appeal either way. Quite simply if you’ve ever found yourself wrapped up in works by Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire, F.C. Judd or Malcolm Pointon, you’re almost sure to love this playful collection.
“Jelinek on the music's initial discovery: "It seems incredible that Bogner's musical talents should have remained undiscovered, but in view of her biography, this might have been inevitable. I met Sebastian Bogner, Ursula's son, on a flight, and the usual small talk led to the topic of his mother, who 'liked to play around with synthesizers', albeit purely on an amateur level. Among her acquaintances, it was considered an eccentric hobby and not paid a great deal of interest. Bogner's life seemed simple and bourgeois to the core: she was a pharmacist, wife and mother. This situation made her obsession with electronic music all the more bizarre - an obsession that saw her build her own home studio. Throughout her early twenties, she followed the activities of Studio für elektronische Musik, attended seminars by Studio founder Herbert Eimert, exhibited enthusiasm for Musique Concrète and later shared her children's enthusiasm for new wave. Nevertheless, Bogner never involved herself in any scene, never made her music public. Her compositions, betray few signs of esotericism; they are closer to studies and sketches, humorous and almost silly, rather than tied to any particular school. Nevertheless, it is remarkably hard to grasp or classify her work as a whole.
Over the course of 20 years, she dabbled in many different styles, leading to a bewildering variety of titles. In the late 1960s, Bogner started to record her own music on reel-to-reel tapes. Covering a fairly short period of her creative career, this music conveys a peculiar coherence in both form and content, a coherence that reflects her accessible, rhythmic and sometimes even poppy side. My own preference played a part in the selection process, but a further compilation is already in the works. I hope that listeners will enjoy the same exhilaration I experienced on discovery of Ursula Bogner's music"
We can hardly believe it, Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore’s diaze-jazz masterpiece finally touches wax some 16 years since the original CD first cast its long shadow over our evenings. Quite simply; a must-have for fans of Lynch & Badalamenti soundtracks!!!
After spending so much time with this essential record it’s become even harder to sum up its impact as it just defines a whole sound or even a feeling for us, and we’d ideally rather leave that definition as smoky and mysterious as the sounds that curl from its black grooves.
It’s an album best absorbed or drunk deeply with close friends or solo in comfortable, low lit situations, preferably with a single malt and mellow smokes for best reception if that suits you. What ensues is as life-affirmingly contemplative and uncannily memorable as it gets, conjuring imagery of classic film noir and rainy city panoramas that conveys an underlying, romantic darkness which faultlessly seduces us every time.
Quite honestly, every home should own a copy for those times when nothing else will do, holding up a rain-spattered black mirror for those times when you’re at the end-of-the-rope, dangling for life, just can’t figure out your feelings, or need reassurance that you’re not the only one prone to those thoughts.
La Casa Tropical unearth another South African dance bomb with Bayete’s ‘Blue Monday’ and the boogie disco lust of ‘Open Your Heart (Vula)’
The title tune is a slow, balmy boogie with melodic lyrics lamenting a ‘Blue Monday’, contrasted by some pitched down call and response.
But the big one is the B-side’s ‘Open Your Heart (Vula)’, where they raise the tempo slightly with sighing synth vamps and greazed-up bassline paving the groove under a belting vocal.
An excellent Arvo Pärt primer...
"Arvo Pärt creates music of deceptive simplicity, and listening to his work can be a transformative experience. Imagine taking your ears on a retreat, and you’re some way to understanding why his work is so popular.
The Estonian composer underwent his own transformation in the 1970s, having explored dense avant-garde music in the early part of his career. He put himself through an eight-year creative exile, and emerged with a new, purer voice. The Arvo Pärt that many people are devoted to today (including R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and Björk) creates music that cleanses. A sonic detox."
Keith Hudson, the dub dentist, was a one-off innovator with impeccable, classical lineage: his first studio recording involved former Skatalites; his earliest releases provided solid-gold hits for Ken Boothe's "Old Fashioned Way" as far back as John Holt, Delroy Wilson, U-Roy and the rest.
Like "Lloyd" Bullwackies Barnes, his collaborator here - his split from this tradition is dynamic and all his own: Hudson's mature music finds its optimum conditions away from Jamaica, in London and New York studios and for less didactic transatlantic audiences, while his dark experimentalism becomes increasingly better suited to the the LP and extended 12" than the cardinal 7" reggae format.
Original dark disco mixes from the middle>> latter seventies, drenched in the essences of deepest afro-american-jamaican funk jams. "Playing It Cool & Playing It Right" was released in 1981 on Hudson's own, american based Joint International label. It was originally intended that one of Hudson's teenage sons would voice the dubs: in the event the Love Joys, Wayne Jarrett, and inimitably Hudson himself featured at the microphone.
Like Wackies, Hudson was a Studio One devotee "I used to hold Don Drummond's trombone for him so I can be in the studio", he once recalled ˆ and the album follows Coxsone's recent strategy of overdubbing signature rhythms. While the Studio One sides were aimed at the dancefloor; Hudson's reworks of alltime classic tracks like "Melody Maker", all darkside funkadelic guitars and brooding feeling, are more psychological. Deep Barrett Brothers rhythms are remixed like you've never heard, deeper still with reverb, filters and other distortion, pitched down, everything; and overlaid with new recordings, often heavily treated, of wahwahed guitars, percussion, keyboard, voice. "Playing It Cool.." is legendary, strange, utterly compelling music.
Special white vinyl pressing of Pendant’s gaseous, shoegazing 'Make Me Know You Sweet’, without a doubt one of the most immersive electronic albums released this year. Pendant is, of course, the alias of Brian Leeds aka Huerco S - here delving into the kind of blurred harmonic bliss that avoids ambient cliché and instead acts as an absorbing vessel for deep introspection...
The artist sometimes known as Huerco S. ushers a phase shift of sound on the shoegazing harmonic gauze of Make Me Know You Sweet, his immersive debut proper under the Pendant alias. In this horizontal mode he relays abstract stories from a headspace beyond the dance, placing his interests in the Romantic landscapes of JMW Turner, Robert Ashley’s avant-garde enigmas, and Indigenous North American philosophy at the service of a more expressive, oneiric sound that sub/consciously avoids the trapfalls of ‘chillout’ ambient cliché.
Across seven amorphous, texturally detailed tracks he establishes far reaching coordinates for both Pendant and the West Mineral label, which aims to release everything except commonly accepted, traditional forms of late 20th/early 21st century dance music, while also representing the work of his inner circle of friends, producers and artists. In that sense there’s a definite feeling of “no place like home” to his new work, but that home appears altered, much in the same way The Caretaker/Leyland Kirby deals with themes of memory and nostalgia.
It’s best described as mid-ground music, as opposed to the putative background purpose of Ambient styles, or the upfront physicality of dance music. Rather, the sound here billows and unfurls with a paradoxically static chaos, occupying and lurking a space between the eyes and ears in a way that’s not necessarily comforting, and feels to question the nature and relevance of ubiquitous pastoral, new age tropes in the modern era of uncertainty and disingenuity.
The results ponder an impressionistic, romantically ambiguous simulacra of reel life worries and anxiety, feeling at once dense and impending yet without centre. From the keening, 11 minute swell of VVQ-SSJ at the album’s prow, to the similar scope of its closer, Pendant presents an absorbing vessel for introspection, modulating the listener’s depth perception and moderating our intimacy with an elemental push and pull between the curdling, bittersweet froth of BBN-UWZ, the dusky obfuscation of IBX-BZC and, in the supremely evocative play of phosphorescing light and seductive darkness in the mottled depths of KVL-LWQ, which also benefits from additional production by Pontiac Streator.
Make Me Know You Sweet taps into a latent, esoteric vein of American spirituality that’s always been there, yet is only divined by those who remain open-minded to its effect.
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.
Drag City reissue O'Rourke's timeless fusion of Bossa-pop, folk, classic rock and jazz.
"Here's another few sides of long-ago and far-away Jim O'Rourke back on vinyl for the first time since way back. It's the 'Halfway To A Threeway' 12" back to set turntables a-spinnin'. Fans of his 'Eureka' and 'Insignificance' albums (not to mention Jim's tomfoolery as part of the Loose Fur band) will appreciate the analogue pressing of these four cuts of the pop music party-pooper combination of folk, classic rock, smooth jazz and a bit of the avant-garde to help communicate the twisted ways of the misanthrope that made Jim such a perennial int he fickle world of record sales.
A quick listen to the title track exposes our sweet soul-crusher as a lustful man-beast on the make. The song is a straight folk number. Straight, that is, until you listen through the haze of those 6 string overtones and chirpy harmony vocals to hear the true perversity of O'Rourke's fantasies. The whole record's a blast, and it hasn't really aged that much in the eleven-odd years since it first emerged."