Hatti Vatti is one of the Polish underground's most vital figures. He is known for his analogue focused interpretations of an array of sounds, from ambient to footwork.
"While working on SZUM (noise or hiss in Polish), his first longplay since 2014, he was invited by Polish National Audiovisual Institute to join RE:VIVE - a project curated by the Netherlands Institute of Sound & Vision that already resulted with a strikingly original LP from Lakker in 2016.
Having already been inspired by the pioneering work of artists from the Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio, founded in 1962, as well as by animated film scores of the 60s, 70s and 80s, RE:VIVE presented Hatti Vatti with the unmissable opportunity to delve with unprecedented access into the vast archives of the Polish National Audiovisual Institute in Warsaw.
Here, he took the original, sometimes fractured yet melodic compositions he had been working on, and injected with a haunting layer of Iron Curtain era psychedelia. Far beyond a typical 'sampledelic' excursion, SZUM is the sound of a cutting edge electronic craftsman, reimagining his forward thinking work alongside the pioneering ghosts of the past. Album offers a typically bold, retro futuristic exploration of Poland's rich history of sound experimentation, one that simultaneously corresponds closely with contemporary issues and events in the country.”
Hauntingly tender solo debut LP from London’s Kelly Lee Owens, delivering on the promise of her excellent Jenny Hval and Daniel Avery collaborations/remixes in a full album of sylvan tech house and synth-pop beauties.
Prefaced by the head-turning single, Oleic - which featured a smart rework of Jenny Hval’s Kingsize - Kelly Lee Owens’ eponymous album introduces a well rounded yet subtly detailed sound to the world at large, one brimming with the rare promise of an artist who wants to extract something more precious, personalised from the dance music and pop prisms which clearly enthral her music.
There’s probably always going to be something about ethereal, floating vocals and the sensual contours of European tech house, when at its best, which will eternally grab our attention. And this album delivers strongly on both counts - striking an impeccable balance of classic, timeless pop songwriting and purring, contemporary electronic grooves that places it in an exulted space on the shelves.
Collaborators Jenny Hval and Daniel Avery appear on the record’s highlights; Jenny lending her poised delivery and lyrics, framed by KLO’s breathy gilding, on the baroque pop-house dream sequence of Anxi., with Avery assisting on the Fever Ray-meets-Liz Fraser stylings of Keep On Walking; whilst the rest is subtly aided by the mixing and engineering treatments of James Greenwood, who’s best known as Ghost Culture on Erol Elkan’s Phantasy Sound.
That combination of KLO’s chamber-like arrangements and Greenwood’s rendering results a string of other pearls in the strung out balearia of S.O. at the front, thru the gorgeous Arthur - which is surely a play on that library record Aphex Twin sampled on Xtal?! - whereas Evolution flexes some properly toned dancefloor muscle, and Throwing Lines could very nearly be mistaken for a cut from Grimes’ Halfaxa period.
Throughout their time together, the Baltimore-based Arbouretum have been praised for their ability to weave elaborate vocal lines and guitar solos that often unravel into extended improvisation but never with as much finesse as on the masterfully crafted ‘Song Of The Rose’.
"In less practiced hands, these ideas could easily fall into contrivance but on ‘Song of the Rose’ Arbouretum use these elements to perfect their craft of storytelling in song, both lyrically and sonically.
Arbouretum recorded ‘Song Of The Rose’ with Steve Wright at Wrightway Studios. While previous records were recorded in a matter of days, ‘Song Of The Rose’ took weeks. Attention to production details augment their time-tested emphasis on capturing the energy of performance. ‘Song Of The Rose’ is the first time the band has mixed with Kyle Spence (Kurt Vile, Luke Roberts, Harvey Milk) at his studios in Athens, GA."
Lustrous, ambiguously sensual synth expressions from Denmark’s Internazionale.
“The Pale And The Colourful is Internazionale's first album on vinyl, released by Posh Isolation. It comes after a near flood of limited tape releases both through his remarkable Janus Hoved label and through Posh Isolation. It's a logical summary of Internazionale's work up to this point and is the prime example of the sensual synthetic meditations he has come to be known for.
The clear pop sensibility of his compositions are clouded with noises and ambiguous field recordings, and it is somehow hard to really figure out if the music intends to lift us up or hold us down. What is certain is that no Internazionale release up to this point reaches the level of The Pale And The Colourful.”
Bristol's Wisdom Teeth rustle up a low key but hypnotic triple header traversing from the super spacious and sub-heavy minimalism of Simo Cell’s Symmetry to a lean, driving piece of recursive gamelan techno shuffle from Don’t DJ, and the lilting, rhythmelodic and AfrReichian harmonic cadence of K-Lone’s Woniso.
Louche retro-vintage Balearic wings from Farbror Resande Mac, following the course of previous 12”s with Aficionado, Is It Balearic? Recordings, and Back To The Balearics with a balearic balearic of balearics for the balearic types at Horisontal Mambo.
Whereas Pontiak’s 2014 album ‘Innocence’ tore through rowdy riffs and melancholic balladry in a neat half hour, it’s immediately clear from the reverb-heavy trip of opener ‘Easy Does It’ that new album ‘Dialectic Of Ignorance’ is altogether a different beast.
Euphorically defying spatial constraint, brothers Jennings, Van and Lain Carney instead opt to guide each song along its own cosmic trajectory: confident in the outcome but even more excited to enjoy the ride.
Deep thumpin’ house, Detroit and Chicago style, from the new pick-up on Cos_Mos; a division of M>O>S Recordings.
Salomon Duncan is a new moniker to us, and may well be a pseudonym, we just do not know, but he’s clearly got a thing for classic acid, as displayed in the hefty slo-mo charge of Android (AdamantiumMix) whereas Tacci a Spill follows Legowelt-style lines of deep space house inquiry.
Wonderful side of spare piano airs, south Pacific instrumentation and field recordings from Lieven Martens (Dolphins Into The Future), based on the writings on Robert Louis Stevenson...
“After two sold out concerts in Tokyo and Osaka, we treat ourselves on a trip to Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands. After spending a little time in the main city of Naha we took a ferry to Tokashikijima, a small island surrounded by coral reefs, mother-of- pearl farms and infested by an aggressive and poisonous snake. Aharen, a classic small beach town stuck in a fabricated memory of 80’s surf movies, was to be our home for just a few days. While walking through its snake infested bush and through its lagoon, while photographing, the Tombeau De Robert Louis Stevenson, a composition I was hinting at in live environments, became reality inside a patchwork of history, of coral reefs. While walking on the beach, more or less solitary since tourist season was just a few months away, while listening to the gorgeous sound of a small motoric fishing boat working on the reef – an ever-pleasing sound -, and to beautiful synthesized steel drum music coming from the local junior school.
In the end the piece became so simple, an almost clinical exhibition of sound, that it became a difficult world entangled in meaning. Like a coral reef that is so pretty, yet dangerous, vibrant, endangered, complex, slow, fast, all at the same time. (…) Since I already figured out how to present my idylls – in a possible dark sense of the word – in the various forms, presented as a storytelling collection in four parts. Being a portrait (which could be a secretive self-portrait), a comment on ethnography, an exotic illustration and a ritual.
The latter used in the most mundane sense ever, since I’d like to stay far away from a sensational bubblegum approach to (religious) pseudo-ethnography, to the copying of ethnic behaviour, or to approaching it as something odd or weird. These behaviourisms unavoidably invoke the end of all rituals, thus making the world a duller place.”
The high priestess of dark blue operatic viscera, Diamanda Galás presents her first new slab in nearly ten years
Dispensing a mixture of live recordings and covers, with a selection of performances unflinchingly captured live in Paris, Copenhagen, and East Sussex, along with studio recordings of her takes on vintage Thelonious Monk and Jimmy Van Heusen songs.
Cologne-based Dame, Lena Willikens, debuts on Cómeme with a cracking EP of darkside dancefloor mystique heavily influenced by '80s wave heritage.
Her 'Phantom Delia' EP pits years of experience DJing on the radio and at her residency for free-spirited Düsseldorf nightspot, Salon Des Amateurs, together with a rarified knowledge of classic wave musics, outernational rhythms and weirdo techno.
The result: a delicately patterned, phantasmic meld of styles; slipping gears between the furtive, droning EBM of 'Howlin Lupus' to the poised Dominatrix ambience of 'Nilpferd' (mistress, do that "ja, ja, ja" thing again, bitte), to the spunky ghost-house of 'Mari Ori' and the creepy-as-f**k, titular closer, which would make a fine soundtrack to stalking the red light district of Düsseldorf in search of Kraftwerk's studio.
For anyone with a kink for those blink 'n miss Kunstkopf 12"s, Tolouse Low Trax, or just good old fashioned wave music…
Glasgow’s Spinning Coin made their first impression on the world at large with 2016’s ‘Albany’ / ‘Sides’, their debut 7” single on Geographic.
"Tellingly, Spinning Coin are part of a tradition of socialist independent pop from the Scottish region, one with a strong history of DIY creativity against the odds. With ‘Raining On Hope Street’ Spinning Coin reveal another, beautifully moving side to their music: it’s a heartbreaker, a gloriously affecting pop melody.
In many ways Spinning Coin catch what’s in the winds of their times and ‘Raining On Hope Street’ understands the complexities of the heart along with the intensities of lived experience."
Totally Killer 2nd album from Anthony J Hart (Imaginary Forces) as Basic Rhythm for Type, decimating and distilling jungle, grime and garage into their common and most affective dancefloor denominators...
Back with that spice for Type, Anthony J Hart gets down to UK rave fundamentals on a killer 2nd LP under his Basic Rhythm pseudonym. Where his more prolific Imaginary Forces output is all about the push ’n pull of power noise and post-rave techno dynamics, Basic Rhythm fixes a steely focus on the physics of the UK’s hardcore continuum; decimating and distilling jungle, grime and garage into their common and most affective dancefloor denominators.
Basic Rhythm offers Hart up as a sort Leyden Jar battery or vessel storing decades of absorbed and condensed pirate radio transmissions, and The Basics can be heard as his disciplined attempt to parse those muscle memories and sensations into something tangibly, rudely physical but, most crucially, leaving aside those bits he considers unnecessary in a defragging process of mental sonic décollage - breaking down outmoded values and replacing at a distance from the original medium.
What remains forms a kind of refreshingly eviscerated halcyontology, recollecting and rinsing out the good times spending his p’s on new shells at legendary shops such as Music Power (Ilford) and Boogie Times; listening to Rude FM 88.2, Unity 88.4, Pulse 90.6, Weekend Rush 92.3, Kool FM 94.5; cutting dubs at Music House; and swanging his jaw at legendary venues and club nights like Stratford Rex, Temple, Labrynth, Telepathy, Slammin’ Vinyl and One Nation.
In reducing those aspects to a pointillist vocabulary of sawn-off drums, harness-straining subs and tessellating, tussling stabs of flava, he leaves a spare air prompting ambiguous reading of ‘dread’ and ‘ecstasy’, depending on the listener’s own reception/perception. It’s a dichotomy at the core of E18’s postcode-warring sublow shift, explored in the crevices between rap and grime in Fake Thugs, or the way Silent Listener (Adore) is intended to illuminate dank bedrooms, whilst the ructions of Cool Breeze (Summer In Woodford Green) and the fractiously mapped road rave styles of Blood Klaat Kore lend an overlapping sense of deep topographical study to the mix.
Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas’ remix makes Beck sound like Panda Bear banished to a viking diskø; Kölsch reaches for the lasers and the WKD blue in the elephantine trance pop of his remix fro Little Dragon and Flume’s Take A Chance.
Northern Spain’s Jasss returns to Mannequin’s Death of The Machines series - which she kicked off in 2016 - with a 2nd shot of harness-straining EBM noise and slow, seksi, mutant chugalug.
No Complicate knuckles down to raw, fleshly synth noise and bony rhythms on the A-side, arching up from a cavernous intro before unleashing a streaking, needling lead that will elicit winces and jackal grins in equal measure.
On No Chance she drags the tempo right down to a 100bpm grind riddled with expressive synth voices and barking stabs, deferring another beastly lead line until it’s required, and promptly resetting the track with electrifying force.
Illicit jackers’ craic from the transatlantic badboys Willie Burns and DJ Overdose; whipping up the urgent, bucking acid track Sonny And Ricardo Give Good Advice backed with a bare bones Beat Mix for the DJs.
Mondo issue of the stop-motion animated masterpiece Coraline.
"The soundtrack to Coraline is as haunting as it is whimsical. With the help Budapest Orchestra and Choir behind him, composer Bruno Coulais captures the dark child-like imagination of the titular protagonist with menace and aplomb."
Brusque, Ballardian EBM techno and industrial clangers from Oliver Ho in his Broken English Club style.
The A-side’s Accidents & Romance clamps down with rottie-toothed 16th note synth snarls and back-breaking kicks whilst the owner chats like a man possessed, somewhere above the escalating madness.
B-side, Country Life bucks up some recoiling and lustrous EBM funk that burns on contact, backed with a descent into crushing industrial torpor with Private Death.
'I'm Not A Heaven Man' is label bossman Stephen Bishop aka Basic House's second album, following the issue of his 'Ambrosias Vol.1' for Norway's boutique Koppklys imprint, and sketches an often bleak soundworld streaked with cryptic chiaroscuro electro-acoustics, ritualist drone, edge-of-the-planet ambience and tape-ground industrial house patterns.
At times it recalls an opiated, sleep-paralysed version of Andy Stott, maybe a darker adjunct to the frayed and abstract environs of Aaron Dilloway, or a more diffuse Thought Broadcast, especially in the deconstructed warehouse interzone of 'Teenage Dog', the sludgy lilt of 'Perishing' or the submerged digital scree of 'Green Dome (Bottomless)'.
But ultimately there's something more elusive, a haptic appreciation of grain and space that we can't place our finger on and should keep us returning to this gem gone 3am when nothing else will fit the atmosphere of glowing computer screen, creaking house timbers and EVP hallucinations.
Icy polyrhythms, stinging acid, modulated reflections, and hallucinatory waves percolate through the latest solo EP from Rrose. Starting deceptively crisp and dry, all three tracks ooze with the kind of slow building, multi-layered intensity that typify Rrose releases.
Composed by Dario Marianelli, KUBO, continues the masterful legacy of Laika Animation Studio's filmography: Incredible visuals, and craft - and equally as powerful soundtracks.
"This Dario's second time composing for the studio, this time dabbling in Japanese instrumentation to bring our titular hero's journey to life."
The Kid gives his wrist a rest to unfurl a suite of cinematic strings underlined by heavy bass and voiced by the elven-voiced Icelandic signer, Emiliana Torrini.
“Kid Koala’s Music To Draw To: Satellite is an uncharted musical journey: an expansive work of ambient electronic soundscapes and chilling ballads in collaboration with Icelandic artist Emilíana Torrini. This inaugural volume in the Music To Draw To series is Kid Koala's first non-sample-based record, instead using an array of synthesizers, keys, guitars, strings, turntables, and inventive recording techniques to portray this heartrending musical story about a couple separated by a mission to Mars.
The output is over 72 atmospheric minutes of stardust settling like fresh snow over Kid Koala’s trove of turntables and sentiment.”
Diario de un Monstruo is a homage to the 1981 album Diary of a Madman by Ozzy Osbourne. It is another (and some might argue, inevitable, addition) to the ongoing Monster series of releases.
"To say Liles’ recording is a cover version of the original Ozzy album is far too simplistic and misleading. This recording adapts motifs and hooks from the original music but is in no way similar. It is a complex tapestry that is woven from many fine threads and at times is a confusing and incomprehensible MONSTROUS interpretation of the classic album. Anyone expecting a hard rock L.P. will be sorely disappointed.
Liles has been obsessed by the original album since its release 36 years ago and has been collecting various L.P. pressings and ephemera associated with Diary of Madman for many years.”
Queen of the NON collective, Nkisi makes her solo debut proper with an urgent showcase melding Congolese dance rhythms with Belgian techno and gabber inspirations.
The singular producer, based between Brussels and London, has been throwing down some of the sickest DJ sets online via her NTS show, among others, for the last few years now, alongside her work in curating and managing the NON collective beside Angel Ho and Chino Amobi.
Landing after a string of digital releases, Nkisi’s Kill EP explores the breadth of her rooted, forward and deadly sound: kicking off with the militant dancer’s sensuality of Kill’s hopping polyrhythms and transition from smooth to salty trance electronics, pursued by the downstrokes contours of Can U See Me at her slowest and sweepingly atmospheric.
The other side is a totally different affair, closer in tone to the insistent pressure of her radio and club sets. MWANA comes on like darkside renegade from a Petchy show, all driving snares and bolshy toms pinned into place with sticky EBM bass hits and sky falling pads, then the acid grobble of Parched Lips goes on like something from a lost sect of Spiral Tribe that ended up in a central African republic.
The followup to ‘Oh! Mighty Engine’, ex-Slowdive feller Neil Halstead is again scratching his folkie itch on ‘Palindrome Hunches’.
It would be too obvious for him to go back to his ‘Souvlaki’-era experimentation I suppose, but just for good measure the album kicks off with the Red House Painters-ish ‘Digging Shelters’, a track that might be just as melancholy as anything he’s ever penned. It’s not going to convince desperate Slowdive fans, but it’s a great start to an album that manages to blend the alt-country jangle of Mojave 3 and the whimsical qualities many thought Halstead had left behind. More than just reverberating dream pop, ‘Palindrome Hunches’ is bursting with jangling diary entries, wide reaching influences and genuine heart.
Banana Stand Sound showcase California’s 140bpm sphere with four tracks from the west side.
OH91 goes in with gut-wobbling halfstep pressure and starry lead synths on Meditation; Nights & Serotonin’s Jazz Lick gets mad on a broken, tribal tip hearkening back to original Benga and Hatcha styles; TryTryDieDown wins outright with the R&G bling of Boo; and Crix Saiz brings it back to root on the trapping halfstep lean of Warrior.
New, unreleased and scarce tracks pulled from Harbinger Sound's diverse roster of artists, feat exclusives from Sleaford Mods, Consumer Electronics, Steve Ignorant's Slice Of Life plus tracks from Pain Jerk, Sudden Infant, Phil Julian and load more...
Dancefloor gold right here from Young Marco’s Safe Trip label, packaging ten cuts of divine, sensual Italian Dream House 89-93 in the wake of his excellent Dekmantel Selectors pack and his previous sojourns along more cosmic vectors.
A bit of a red flag on our disco radars, this portion of the worldwide house revolution has mostly evaded reissue schemes and wider appreciation when compared with, say, Japanese house or New Beat, for example, which both proliferated during the same era, respectively, and have all seen more love in recent years. However, despite constant reference from those in the know, Italian house remains a distant, exotic land to those out of the loop, which is where Young Marco really steps up to the plate with this expert overview crammed with vital, life-affirming selections.
As sophisticated as any of Soichi Terada’s early ‘90s productions, but perhaps closer to the ruggedness and soul of the original Chicago, Detroit and New York deep house sounds, the Italian Dream House sound is defined by proper, wide basslines, earthy drum machines and the sultriest vibes, bordering on pure dancefloor sex. By dint of geography, it clearly shares a lot in spirit with the decadence of Ibizan needs, too and it ain’t hard to imagine how these cooing, winking grooves would have melted all over the Gucci loafers and fresh bikini waxes at Pacha during that epoch.
There are too many highlights to mention them all, but the real standouts for us lie in Don Pablo’s deeply horny blend of Chi-acid and synth-pop in Animals Paranoia, the tanned gorgeousness of Last Rhythm’s Last Rhythm (Ambient Mix), the languorous piano house hustle of Calypso Of House (Paradise Mix) from Key Tronics Ensemble, and the lip-biting swang of Deep Choice’s Fix Of 4:38 PM, but we’re sure that selection could shift around with a few more listens.
Consider this a perfect gateway drug for your inevitable addiction to early Italian house.
Beatrice Dillon meets Kassem Mosse for two higher register adventures on The Trilogy Tapes following their joint tape for Ominira in 2016 and a live collaboration at Tate Liverpool.
In a very smart move designed to simultaneously demonstrate their taste for extreme, puristic sonics and sidestep any preconceptions you may have justifiably built up from their respective catalogues, they’ve completely jettisoned the beat here in favour of two tightrope-walking pieces following glistening, highly strung partials over cavernous, swelling beds of subbass oscillator roil.
The effect is far closer to Kevin Drumm on a mad one or with a vertiginousness that will likely induce panic attacks in anyone who doesn’t like air travel or heights, ‘cause when they really get going it feels like the world has just been pulled from under your feet and, well, you’re fucking flying pal.
This is one of those TTT 12”s that’s sure to slice neeks down the middle. For our 2p, it needs to be heard on the loudest system you can lay your paws on.
Immersive slab of post-techno sound designs from Japan’s Yuji Kondo (half of Steven Porter with Katsunori Sawa) on Kyoto’s 10 Label.
As opposed to Kondo’s prior dancefloor 12”s, this one keeps the ‘floor at a distance, preferring to dance around more weightless and abstract structures occluded with silty layers of atmospheric noise, sustaining a thread of textural, narrative logic that transitions from knotted, rubbly in the first, to more piquant pulses, ghostly rave vocals and sweeping synthetic string arrangements in the last, taking in nimble techno rhythms in the gulf between.
A ruthless digi-stepper from the Mark Ernestus and Honest Jon's-curated Dug Out label!!!
They've truly outdone themselves this time, laying down Anthony Redrose's 'Electric Chair' on a scorching riddim set by JA producer Dennis 'Star' Hayes in 1989. We're left breathless after five plays through, shocking out to the jolting stab syncopations and throbbing futurist bassline. If you've ever been caught up in a Mark Ernestus DJ set and pondered over how much it sounds like techno then this will join the dots for you. Don't sleep! This is a Baaad!
'Gimme Back' provides us with more classic Bullwackies production styles, catching the Love Joys in full flight.
The tune is heart rending, the harmonies magnificent, soulful organ, rocking horns and a crisp Junior Delahaye drum programme, and a finely crafted, deep dub. 'It Ain't Easy' features bluebeat veteran, Blues Buster PHILIP JAMES alongside SONIA ABEL at the microphone. 'Stranger Get Up' is the slower, keyboard cut: moody and honed down to essentials. Yet another exclusive rounds off proceedings, 'Roots Vibes' - again replete with a version - dates from the sessions for the Reggae Vibes album (also recently reissued by the Rhythm & Sound crew. More missing chapters.
Scowly Berlin electro-techno from the Dark Sky trio, back on Modeselektor’s Monkeytown Records with a hunched roller called Kilter traversing from dark side to a chufty post rock swell in the second half, whereas the more pensive, secretive Acacia provides a satisfying ending.
John Elliot (Emeralds) and Andrew Veres rekindle their Outer Space fantasy with Gemini Suite, a lustrous and wide-eyed minute projection “fit for aiding in sleep, late night meditations, and long drives on I-71”, making a worthy follow-up to their pulsating Phantom Centre (2014) trip with Editions Mego, and Amethyst Sunset’s recent-ish vinyl release of that cracking Aaron Dilloway tape.
Take it on trust there are no sharp edges or shocks within Gemini Suite. Everything is contoured and cushioned for endless flight, with no impediments to your journey, which only seems more real/immersive because of it’s organically subtle synthesis.
Comparisons can be cleanly made with the soundtracks to syndicated nature programmes on ‘80s and ‘90s telly as much as classic sci-fi fantasy scores and privately pressed new age excursions, but ultimately the feeling is suspended between them all, hovering in that shared formative zone of expression that’s inescapable to anyone who grew up through those times, and who can still allow themselves to bypass cynicism and let themselves be taken somewhere utopian, if even only for half an hour.
Cosmic creme for the dreamers.
The new album from Dedekind Cut, brought to you via Non Worldwide and Hospital Productions.
Over the last 12 months Lee Bannon’s transition into Dedekind Cut has yielded some of the most curious, immersive electronic music from the USA. His transformation now appears to be complete with the strikingly spacious and absorbing ambient sound designs of $uccessor, the NYC-based artist’s debut album in this guise.
It feels as though Bannon's previous releases, American Zen for Hospital Productions, and the scything torque of R&D with Rabit, were cleverly planned stepping stones into this brave new world, where he establishes a dream-like topography of diaphanous ambient pads pitted with the shrapnel of grime and trap, ultimately revealing a simulated, otherworldly environment deeply personal to the artist.
His amalgamation of layered ambient dimensions with haunting harmonic figures nods to early ‘90s AI and electronica from FSOL to Coil via the antecedent spheres of modern sci-fi and computer game soundtracks, whilst also existing in a history of North American computer music and noise that connects to the spirits of Prurient and Carl Stone.
We’re parachuted in like an avatar in No Mans Sky to the lush levels of Descend From Now, streaking across the iced out sino-eski zones of Instinct to the heart-rending eight minutes of Conversations with Angels and the perpetually elusive rhythms of Fear In Reverse, before the hyaline harmonies of ☯ makes his most faithful, explicit nod to Coil, and Integra reaches to more optimistic new age planes before culminating in the aching chamber figure, 46:50.
It's telling that the album is brought to you via two highly individual labels such as Non and Hospital Productions - this meeting of worlds provides a context for the music itself, making for an album that we'd recommend as much to those of you who have enjoyed recent outings by Chino Amobi, Rabit or Arca, as much as followers of Prurient or, indeed, Dominick Fernow's Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement project.
It's easily one of the most absorbing, sometimes disturbing Ambient albums you'll hear in 2016.
Loke Rahbek returns under his Croatian Amor alias for its first full-length since 2014's 'The Wild Palms,' a release that was made available on cassette for a single month, and only in exchange for a nude self-portrait. This one is really one of the best things we've heard on Posh Isolation so far - an excellently produced excursion through post-industrial, ambient and darkened pop tropes that come highly recommended if you're into anything from Alessandro Cortini through to Cold Cave, Prurient, Vangelis and beyond.
Across the 12 tracks of Love Means Taking Action Loke emerges from the shadows of Prurient/Hospital Productions and early Factory Records to define a stylishly gloomy spirit in his own image, following a silvery thread of dark, lustful inspirations from the stark, gothic ambient pop of An Angel gets His Wings Clipped thru wickedly bombed-out post-techno zones in Any Life You Want to the celibate drones of No Sex Club (Man) and soaring synth trajectories of Reality Summit and the slow dawning of romantic tristesse with Love Means Taking Action recalling the most perfect moments of Cold Cave.
Over the last year we’ve definitely noticed Posh Isolation begin to transcend their influences and really come into their own as representatives of diverse, cold, northern European pop, noise and electronic music. So it’s fair to say that the exquisite Love Means Taking Action, by one of the label’s main pillars, will come to define this period for time to come.
If you’ve been cautiously checking the label so far, this one demands the attention of all wallowing goths and monochrome industrialists.
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."
The PAN label's premier purveyors of “chamber doom” return with a new cycle for longtime alibis, Antifrost, following their acclaimed folk trilogy of LPs between 2014-15, and the still-resonating tones of Som Sakrifis (2013) for PAN.
If you’ve encountered any of the aforementioned, you will have a very good idea of what to hope for in the 3-part Pèkisyon Funebri; namely a majestic sense of struggle against the flattening feeling of despair and fatigue that haunts our times.
This is music which appears to carry the weight of the world on its shoulders whilst wielding a cello and bow in its heavy limbs, dredging the psyche for signs of life which are found and coaxed from their holes to emerge as churning low-end gestures who reinforce their dual resonant frequencies in slow, wide vortices aimed at centring and quaking your thorax.
Subterranean in their prostration but sidereal in hope against the frustrations that we can only imagine must be felt in Greece right now, Pèkisyon Funebri is a masterful reminder that even at the lowest ebbs there is solace and resilience to be found if one remains faithful to the search.
Flawless, romantic futurism from Kuedo, channelling the deepest thing for emotive anime scores, coldest trap beats and cinematic sound design into a magisterial 2nd album for Planet Mu 18 months after the release of the dramatic mini-LP, Assertion of a Surrounding Presence (2015) on his Knives label.
Plainly speaking: Slow Knife is everything you hoped for and then some. Using an increasingly formidable technical knowledge of how sound is deployed in film and TV - coupled with highly refined tastes for trap’s platinum bling and the enigmatic appeal of early ‘90s synth scores, he has achieved a feel for immersive environments and impressionistic narration that’s rarely equalled within the current field of producers.
Kuedo’s is a sound reared on a steady diet of imported US, UK and Japanese sci-fi - from the True Detective and Ghost In The Shell scores to Mica Levi’s Under the Skin OST - and filtered thru the sensibilities of classic electronica in a Berlin studio; sincerely and skilfully distilling all the best, cheesiest (read: most affective) elements of each style and place in pursuit of a prescient vision which has lit up the scene ever since his early work with Vex’d.
As opposed to his collaborator-crammed Assertion of a Surrounding Presence LP, he’s only allowed two other artists into his sphere this time, with Wild Beasts’ Hayden Thorpe crooning on In Your Sleep (took a couple of times for this to sink in, but it definitely works), and cello from Koenraad Ecker (Lumisokea) on Broken Fox - Black Hole, but the rest is entirely the figment of his imagination come to life.
From the title sequence of Hourglass and the wounded alien wail of Under The Surface, thru the diaphanous dimensions of Floating Forest and the sublime X-Files tone of Love Theme, right up to the knuckle-cracking trap closer, Lathe; he knows exactly how to play with our sense of anticipation and resolution like some seasoned Hollywood pro, but without the pressures of film producers and big budgets hanging over his head.
Ultimately it’s a worthy successor to Severant, both conceptually and technically, and arguably makes the wealth of early ‘80s and kosmische-referencing synth music currently in circulation seem dated by comparison.
Devotional Songs marks a necessary and refreshing change of direction by Shackleton; collaborating with London-based Italian castrato-style singer Ernesto Tomasini to sound like some lost Coil recordings.
The whirligig drawbar organs of Shackleton’s releases since 2012 are still in effect, but tempered in balance with Tomasini’s remarkable vocal range and some really lush, almost Detroit-style synth harmonies and ritual atmospheres whilst his signature palette of bass and drums hints at some Far and South East Asian influence in the vein of Sleazy’s Threshold HouseBoys Choir recordings.
It’s a beautifully self-contained project covering a broad range of esoteric topography from the detoxing vibrations of Rinse out All Contaminants to the sweepingly epic resolution of Father, Yiou Have Left Me, whilst unmistakably referencing some of Coil or Current 93’s most haunting moments in the chiming harmonic haze, swelling chorales and operatic drama of You Are The One, and the spirit-rousing string arrangements in Twelve Shared Addictions.
You Know What It’s Like is the quietly breathtaking debut album from Carla Dal Forno ov Tarcar and F Ingers - an incredible debut which tip toes the finest line between contentment and aching vulnerability in head-turning fashion.
Her voice is exquisitely fragile but poised and confident with it; representing an unshowy resolve which, despite its gothic chic, actually feels fresh and necessary - operating counter to contemporary glitz and glamour with clear allusions to her heroes, such as Nico or Anna Domino.
Prefaced by two single tracks, the departing dream of Fast Moving Cars and the ghostly nerve pincher What You Gonna Do Now? the album also features six new songs clocking in at just under half an hour, following a bedsit slug trail from the mildew sprawl and nitrate bubble of opener Italian Cinema to the ‘floor-stalking sleep house thud of DB Rip and a deep drifting instrumental, Dry In The Rain, strewn with melodica-like pipes and cobwebbed in acoustic guitar strum like some dusty eldritch dub of A C Marias.
In the album’s twilight hours, Carla really comes into her own on the title song, flitting between Crepulscule-esque songcraft and slow-rocking traces of UK dub, her vocals urgent but nevertheless nonchalant, before Dragon Breath recedes back into the mists of chamber music and she proceeds to pour a potent, near paralysing nightcap and shuffle away from the screen down a long corridor, fading to black in The Same Reply.
We’re utterly smitten, this could turn into a proper addiction.
This is very tasty indeed: Lawrence English and Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart’s Hexa duo present their soundtrack to an exhibition of David Lynch’s factory photography, Between Two Worlds, which was displayed at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art in 2015 and is now presented as a fully realised release.
We can hardly imagine a more evocative subject to work with, and Hexa pick up the task with aplomb, spilling ten tracks of imposing scale and cavernous structure that heavily resonate with the monotone brutalism of Alan R. Splet and David Lynch’s own, seminal soundtrack to Eraserhead. They describe it as “a work that maps the terrain of Lynch’s photographs, and more broadly, the idea of industrial music in a post-industrial age”, and at the hand of English and Stewart the results are both beautiful and terrifying.
Like Lynch, we’re also rather partial to a good factory building or warehouse, and can definitely relate to his comments on the subject: “I grew up in the north-west of America where there are no factories at all, just woods and farms. But my mother was from Brooklyn, so when I was little we used to go there and I got a taste for a certain kind of architecture and a feeling for machines and smoke and fear. To me, the ideal factory location has no real nature, except winter-dead black trees and oil-soaked earth. Time disappears when I'm shooting in a factory, it's really beautiful.”
HEXA really nail the brief, distilling trace elements of all the unheimlich styles that Lynch’s art has inspired over the generations, from industrial noise and drone in the toiling Sledge to doom metal in There Never Was and dominating electronic atmospheres in A Breath.
Huge recommendation if you're into anything from Lynch, Sunn O))), NiN, Thomas Köner etc.
Mica Levi is without question one of the most interesting producers working today, with numerous strings to her bow she has repeatedly wowed us with everything from skewed rhythmic edits to her chopped & screwed take on classical arrangements, hooky 3-minute pop tracks to squashed Urban mixtapes - always seemingly side-stepping expectations with a singular approach to everything she's put her hand to.
Following her standout, brilliantly unnerving score for Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin a couple of years back, Levi now returns with her second high-profile soundtrack, this time for Pablo Larraín’s Jackie.
There are some pretty amazing interviews with Levi around at the moment (both written, and a couple of totally hilarious Video ones where she makes no concession to what’s expected of her - go find them!), and the tiny insight she gives to the recording process does very little to explain quite how she manages to make a sound so utterly identifiable as her own, regardless of the scale of the production. You’ll find out that she likes to look out of the window when she’s writing, for inspiration, and that despite a classical grounding (at Guildhall) she likes to layer strings in such a way that they attain a kind of school-band quality to them, ever so subtly messing with harmonics in a way that defies tradition.
And that’s the thing with this incredible soundtrack - it sounds rich and beautiful and hugely accomplished, but also ever so slightly off. The use of silence, dissonance, recurring motifs that accelerate and unravel as the soundtrack goes on... is quite something to behold. It’s a hugely confident, self-assured and above all gripping score that is never emotionally heavy-handed, nor does it ever sound like it's trying too hard.
Rather than adapting herself to convention, Levi has re-moulded the genre itself to fit around her acutely non-conformist approach to composition and production and, in the process, has in some way re-set our expectations of what a film score can achieve. She’s done that twice now, on her first two goes at it, which is really quite staggering.
We’ve said this so many times now it almost goes without saying, but there really aren’t many people in contemporary music leaving quite as indelible a mark across so many different genres and sub genres as Mica Levi, in a way that, in our opinion, hasn't really been seen since Arthur Russell or Prince.
Gatefold LP reissue. Available again for first time in years
'Break Through In Grey Room' is an historic collection of cut-up tape works by William S. Burroughs aided and abetted by Ian Sommerville and Brion Gysin. First compiled and released in 1986, but documenting recordings made and cut-up during the mid-'60s in hotel rooms of Paris, New York, London, Tangiers, it stands as testament to Burroughs pioneering work striving to "cut the pre-recorded time line of present time, and let the future leak through", by splicing and dicing recordings of monologues, radio waves, and Morroccan joujouka music until they're utterly deconstructed and take on a whole new meaning.
The outstanding maiden release on Pete Swanson’s Freedom To Spend label is a reissue of Michele Mercure’s sublime obscurity Eye Chant (1986), which was originally issued under her then married name, Michele Musser, and has since become a proper collectors item regarded for its patently otherworldly blend of minimal wave, new age ambient and creamy, krauty electro boogie.
In the early ‘80s, with a background working as a cell animator, and hailing from a mid-sized industrial town, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA, Michele was embedded in the the town’s visual arts community but suffered for lack of decent music - a familiar whinge from anyone who grew up outside of the big cities - so she made her own wickedly inventive and expressive sound using synths, effects, tape loops, vocals.
Her visual and musical worlds first gelled in a 1983 soundtrack for Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, followed by three self-released cassettes which built on that aesthetic, creating a richly synaesthetic style of highly visual yet mostly minimalist music.
Released a few years later, Eye Chant was the pinnacle of her output, and is now revealed to the world at large, thirty years later. From the rim we’re sent skyward into the waltzing orbit of Tour De France (Day 2) and kissed with the budget Jean Michel-Jarre vibes of In The Air, handing over to the wistfully primitivist incantation, The Intruder and hitting lightspeed with her soaring soundtrack for a performance art piece, 100% Bridal Illusion, where she calves from ecstatic highs into a scene of tumbling 606 drum machine, seagulls and nods to squabbly free jazz.
The others also live up to her name, almost imperceptibly shifting from glowing microtones to alien noise and slippery, lounging electro fusion with Dream Clock, and then like some salty-curdled ambient stroke in Proteus and the Marlin that uncannily reminds us of mid ‘90s Rephlex charms - think super melodic AFX or Cylob - before melting all over the ‘floor with a wigged-out waltz called Too Much primed for the back room at One Eyed Jack’s.
It’s easy to hear, this is strongly tipped to fans of Julia Holter, Suzanne Ciani, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, AFX, Irdial Discs.
Important tape cut-ups of readings - available on vinyl for the first time...
"William Burroughs was in and out of London from the mid-50s through to 1974 and for several years quite settled in a flat near Piccadilly. During this latter time he developed and refined the techniques he used for creating cut-ups on tape. Working closely with Ian Sommerville, who helped acquire, and no doubt maintain, the various tape recorders that Burroughs used and abused in these experimental works. The work here is in 2 sections, which in their original form lasted for over an hour and first appeared in 1998 under the name Electronic Revolution as a free CD with Issue One of the French magazine Crash.
The CD was quickly withdrawn with maybe only 100 copies finding their way into circulation. This edition is edited down to 46 minutes and comprises the core of the original recording. It employs the now familiar techniques of random drop-ins and cut-ups of readings. The readings themselves also being cut-ups of words on the page. The first section of the tape uses further processing by means of a 2nd tape recorder. Recorded in Duke Street c1968, the tape was then passed on to Brion Gysin in Paris where it remained in his archive until 1998. This is the first readily available edition of a hypnotic and meditative recording that examines the hidden power of words. Closer to a work of sound poetry than anything literary.
The album includes a 12”x12” insert with an essay by Ben Harper and several previously unseen portrait photos of Burroughs, taken by Harriet Crowder in her Hammersmith flat during a drug experiment. The back cover uses another Crowder image - the very next frame after the famous shot that appeared on the cover of the English Bookshop/ESP “Call Me Burroughs” LP."
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.